Bruce Willis Has a Rare Form of Dementia, Family Says

Bruce Willis suffers from frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia, his family announced in the latest update on the actor's health.

In a statement shared Thursday, family of Willis, 67, said that receiving a more specific diagnosis is "painful" but also a relief.

"Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we 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 statement from his ex-wife Demi Moore and their daughters read.

Frontotemporal dementia (FDT) is a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain's frontal or temporal lobes. There are two variants of the condition:

The behavioral variant FTD is characterized by damage to the brain's frontal lobes, causing problems with behavior and personality. In this variant, nerve cell loss is most significant in areas that control conduct, judgment, empathy, and foresight, among other abilities. The condition primarily occurs in people in their 50s and 60s.

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) affects language skills, speaking, writing, and comprehension. For example, people with this type of FTD may lose the ability to understand or formulate words in a spoken sentence.

In spring 2022, Willis' family announced that the actor has aphasia, a disorder that affects how a person communicates and typically occurs after a stroke or head injury. Following the diagnosis, the star of "Die Hard" and "Pulp Fiction" stepped away from his acting career last year.

"Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces," the statement says.

As receiving an FTD diagnosis may take years, there are only rough estimates of how many people have the condition. Between 50,000 to 60,000 people may suffer from FTD in the United States.

The progression of FDA symptoms varies by individual and may take two to over 20 years. People with the condition may have increasing difficulty planning or organizing activities and may experience trouble communicating with others or behaving inappropriately in social situations. The average life expectancy of people with FTD is seven to 13 years after symptoms onset.

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