Bills Legend Jim Kelly Undergoes Successful Surgery to Remove Cancer in Jaw

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2013

Just four days after announcing he was diagnosed with squamous-cell carcinoma in his upper jaw bone, former Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly successfully underwent surgery on Friday, according to


UPDATE: Monday, June 24, at 11:20 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

Chris Brown of has the latest on Jim Kelly following surgery to remove cancer from his jaw:

It was the news Jim Kelly was hoping for following surgery to remove part of his jaw that was stricken with cancer. Last week on a follow-up visit to the physicians that performed his surgery June 7th, Kelly was told he was cancer free and for now would avoid chemotherapy.

"I found out great news on Wednesday," Kelly said Monday at the opening of his 26th annual Jim Kelly Football Camp. "I don’t have to go through radiation treatment and chemo, which is a blessing. From what I’ve been told everything that they did in surgery, if I had to do radiation or chemo it would put me way back."


Kelly, who is cancer free now, understands there’s the possibility that the cancer could return. To monitor that, the Hall of Fame quarterback will be returning to his doctors every two months for checkups. For now, he was more than happy to sidestep chemotherapy.

"Big time relief," he said. "Trust me, prayers definitely have a big part in it. I’ve received so many letters and emails from people that have had similar circumstances as I did and some of them were not very good and some of them were very good. You’re encouraged on one hand and discouraged on the other. To find out where they’ve been and the prognosis of where I’m going I’m very excited. I’m happy."

---End of update---


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Upon completion of the surgery, Erie County Medical Center released a statement discussing Kelly's status (via

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.

Upon announcing that he had cancer, Kelly revealed that the doctors called his prognosis "very good," according to A timetable for his recovery hasn't been released, but Kelly made a living out of being resilient, so he has the character necessary to handle whatever is thrown his way.

Kelly was an inspirational figure for the early '90s Bills teams that reached the Super Bowl in four straight seasons. Kelly always seemed to know the right thing to say, and that is a quality that hasn't left him, as evidenced by his statement on Monday, which the Bills highlighted on Instagram:

Kelly is the Bills' all-time leading passer, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He has continued to be a mainstay in the community since his retirement in 1996 and has had a presence with the franchise as well.

While Kelly obviously still has a long road to recovery, it is definitely positive news that the surgery went well and everything appears to be on track.


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