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Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, family says

Actor Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, "a cruel disease," his family said in a statement posted on Thursday to the website of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. Willis was originally diagnosed with aphasia last year.  His family said at the time that he was "stepping away" from his acting career as a result.

"As a family, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past ten months. Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it," the family said Thursday, before giving an update on Willis' condition. 

"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 (known as FTD)," continued the statement.

"Challenges with communication" are one of the symptoms Willis faces with FTD, which is the most common form of dementia in people under 60 — with most FTD cases occurring between the ages of 45 and 64, according to the AFTD. The disease is likely more common than statistics suggest, as it is lesser known and can take years to receive a formal diagnosis. 

FTD is a degenerative brain disorder characterized by deterioration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes, according to the AFTD. Symptoms may include "uncharacteristic personality changes, apathy, and unexplained struggles with decision-making, speaking or language comprehension are among the most common presenting symptoms."

While there is currently neither a cure nor treatments available for the condition, the Willis family writes that they hope to help change this.

"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," adding that Willis has always believed in using his voice to raise awareness and help others, both in and out of the public eye.

"Bruce has always found joy in life — and has helped everyone he knows to do the same," the statement concluded. "Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible."

The letter was signed by Willis' five daughters, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn; his wife, Emma Heming Willis; and his ex-wife, Demi Moore.

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