Sen. Kennedy, U.S. liberal leader, leaves hospital

BOSTON, May 21 (Reuters) - Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, an elder statesman of U.S. liberal politics and brother of slain President John F. Kennedy, was released from a Boston hospital on Wednesday morning after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

The 76-year-old lawmaker waved to sympathizers and embraced accompanying family members as he left Massachusetts General Hospital, where has been since suffering a seizure at his family’s Cape Cod vacation home on Saturday.

Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the current U.S. Senate whose diagnosis shocked and saddened his Democratic and Republican colleagues, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor called a glioma, his doctors said on Tuesday. It is a type of tumor that usually kills within three years.

The doctors said he might undergo treatment including radiation and chemotherapy.

“Senator Kennedy has recovered remarkably quickly from his Monday procedure and therefore will be released from the hospital today ahead of schedule,” his doctors, neurologist Dr. Lee Schwamm and physician Dr. Larry Ronan said in a joint statement.

The doctors described Kennedy as “feeling well and eager to get started.”

It is unclear whether Kennedy will have to resign because of his illness, but he is expected to take time off from the Senate while undergoing chemotherapy.

The white-haired senator is the patriarch of American’s most storied political family and the last of four brothers. President Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy were both assassinated during the turbulent 1960s, while eldest brother Joseph Jr. was killed in World War Two.

News of his illness has stunned Massachusetts residents.

“It was a shock to hear about it. I just feel so bad for him,” said Joanne Green, 60, who was outside the hospital waiting for kidney surgery and a glimpse of the senator. “He’s had such a hard life.” (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Scott Malone in Boston and Maggie Fox in Washington; editing by David Storey)