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What is frontotemporal dementia?

The family of Bruce Willis says frontotemporal dementia "is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone."

WASHINGTON — The family of Bruce Willis shared Thursday that the beloved actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, known as FTD.  

The announcement comes one year after his family said he'd been diagnosed with aphasia and would be stepping away from his decades-long acting career because it was impacting his cognitive abilities. 

"Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia," his family said Thursday.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

According to the Mayo Clinic website, frontotemporal dementia "is an umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain."

While dementia mostly impacts people over the age of 65, frontotemporal dementia tends to start at a younger age with most cases diagnosed in people between 45-65 years old, according to the U.K. National Health System

RELATED: Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia

The most common symptoms and signs of frontotemporal dementia involve extreme changes in behavior and personality including, lack of judgement, increasingly inappropriate social behavior, repetitive compulsive behavior and more. 

Frontotemporal dementia is the cause of 10% to 20% of dementia cases, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

As Bruce Willis' family explained: "FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone."  

Are there any treatments for frontotemporal dementia?

Unfortunately, there is no cure or specific treatment for frontotemporal dementia, the Mayo Clinic explains on its website

Willis' family said Thursday it's a reality they hope can change in the years ahead. 

"As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research," the family statement added. They encouraged those who have been fortunate enough not to have any personal experience with FTD to take the time to learn about it and support The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration's mission

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