Hollywood actor Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his family has announced.
In a statement shared Thursday February 16, the 67-year-old star’s family stated that while the news “is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”
“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 said.
In 2022, the 67-year-old action movie star was diagnosed with aphasia – difficulty with language and speech. Aphasia can occur for a variety of reasons (most commonly stroke) but for Willis, it is now clear that these speech problems were the early signs of this particularly devastating form of dementia.
Frontotemporal dementia is an umbrella term for any disease that causes gradual loss of brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes – the front and sides of the brain. Although relatively rare, it is one of the most common causes of dementia in people under the age of 65, accounting for around 40% of early-onset cases.
The condition – which goes by other names, such as Pick’s disease, frontal dementia, semantic dementia and primary progressive aphasia – tends to develop slowly, over several years.
Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO, said:
“We’re sending our thoughts to Bruce Willis and his family following their announcement that Bruce is living with frontotemporal dementia.
“Speaking publicly about his diagnosis will help so much to shine further light on the condition, for which we are hugely thankful. For those who have been affected by this news, support is available on the Alzheimer’s Society website.”
Frontotemporal dementia is a less common type of dementia and is mostly diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65, although it can also affect people younger or older than this.