BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It was an announcement that caught many off guard, when Jim Kelly announced he was diagnosed with Squamous-cell carcinoma (cancer) of the upper jaw bone.
The former Buffalo Bill is staying confident and positive of the process, which continued today when he underwent surgery at ECMC.
At his press conference on Monday, Jim Kelly told reporters part of his jaw and some of his teeth will have to be removed during the procedure.
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He said when his jaw first hurt him, he went to the dentist. That was when he was referred to an oral surgeon and a cyst was found in the upper part of his jaw.
According to Dr. Richard Hall, the Chairman of the Department of Oral Surgery at U.B. Dental School, the way Kelly found out is pretty common.
Hall said people tend to see dentists more often than physicians, and a dentist is more likely to discover something suspicious in the mouth.
Dr. Hall also says early discovery plays a major role by explaining, "Cancers that are identified in the dental setting are of an earlier stage-a stage one of two-than cancers when they are identified by the physician. Those are often stage three and stage four which means they're harder to treat, they're farther along in the disease process and survivability is less."
The treatment of oral cancers is similar to anywhere else in the body. First, the cancer is removed through surgery and then doctors will try to prevent it from spreading.
Kelly said he isn't sure if he will undergo chemotherapy or radiation. That will be decided after today's surgery at ECMC where a portion of his jawbone was removed and the bone was grafted.
Following the surgery, ECMC sent a release stating:
"At Mr. Kelly's request, we thank everyone for their concern and well wishes for him and his family. Today, Mr. Kelly underwent a partial maxillectomy to remove a squamous cell carcinoma of the upper gingival caused be chronic irritation at the gum site. He underwent reconstruction with a dental obturator. The surgery went very well. We are hopeful for and anticipate a speedy recovery and successful outcome. Mr. Kelly is recovering comfortably at this time. He is in the capable care of the great nurses and staff here at ECMC. He will remain here at the hospital until he feels comfortable to go home."
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