The hospital treating Jim Kelly’s recurring oral cancer reported Wednesday that the Hall of Fame quarterback appears to be cancer free.
“The treatments so far have completely eliminated Mr. Kelly’s pain, and his level of function has essentially returned to normal. Further, on physical examination, there is no evidence of the cancer,” Dr. Peter Costantino, executive director of the New York Head and Neck Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, said in a statement.
The encouraging news came in the wake of Kelly’s evaluation Tuesday, three months after he completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Cancer expert Dr. Jack Jacoub, who is not involved in treating Kelly but spoke to The Times in general terms about the quarterback’s type of the disease, called Wednesday’s news “a very favorable scenario.”
“It’s somewhat of an expected scenario if everything worked the way you hoped,” said Jacoub, medical oncologist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley.
Jacoub said the typical plan of action for a patient who received Kelly’s type of diagnosis would be frequent checkups and scans during the next three years, fewer in Year 4, and fewer still in Year 5.
“If he gets to five years, then you could say we’re moving away from remission and no evidence of the disease to saying there’s a really high probability of cure,” Jacoub said. “We don’t use the word ‘cured’ now. We don’t use it in the next few years. He’s still under surveillance because it could recur again in the same region he was treated in.”
While emphasizing that he hasn’t examined Kelly, Jacoub said: “He has a good chance of cure, because it recurred locally, not outside the original site of the disease.”
Jill Kelly, Jim’s wife, issued a statement on Twitter on Wednesday:
“We have come away from our checkup visit in NYC encouraged and hopeful. Preliminary scan results have necessitated the need for biopsies to be done in order to confirm what we hope to be true … that the cancer has been eradicated. We will not know the outcome until this procedure is completed. And so … We continue to PRAY, rejoice, live … wait and trust GOD who holds ALL things together. God, who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End and every moment in between. In the midst of it all, I know He’s got this. Thank you for praying! Thank you for holding us up during this time. We are so grateful for you! #prayersforjk #kellytough”