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Jim Kelly's surgery successful; 'recovering comfortably'

By Mark Gaughan

Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly has successful surgery today on cancer in his upper-jaw bone, doctors at Erie County Medical Center reported in a statement.

"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.”

The statement came from Dr. Thom R. Loree, clinical director of ECMC's head and neck surgery department, along with Dr. Maureen Sullivan and Dr. Mark S. Burke.

Kelly announced Monday he had been diagnosed with the cancer about two weeks ago. He had been having pain in his jaw since about December. In March he had surgery to remove a cyst about the size of a nickel from his gums and nasal cavity.

A glossary of terms from the ECMC statement ...

Partial maxillectomy: Removal of a portion of the upper jaw, commonly including bone, some roof of the mouth and teeth.

Upper gingival: Upper gums.

Dental obturator: A prosthetic device that replaces structural components removed from the hard palate. It seals gaps and holds skin grafts in place and will allow the patient to swallow and speak after recovery.


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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |