Doctors Remove Tony Gwynn’s Tumor, Facial Nerve

By Eric Haftel

Doctors who operated on Tony Gwynn said it appears the Hall of Famer’s cancer has not spread.

They did say that it could take up to 18 months for him to regain movement in the right side of his face.

The UC San Diego Health System said that surgeons removed a facial nerve because it was intertwined with the tumor inside his right cheek. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to make sure he will eventually regain facial movement.

The hospital said Gwynn is in good spirits and that Tuesday’s complicated surgery went “extremely well.” They said the type of Gwynn’s cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all head and neck cancers.

Gwynn had a malignant growth removed from the same spot in August 2010.

His agent, John Boggs, said he was heartened when, while on the phone with Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, he heard the former San Diego Padres star chuckle in the background.

“That was music to my ears,” Boggs said. “Knowing the grueling surgery he went through, to hear that the next day, tells me his spirits are high. He’s relieved the surgery is done and the prognosis is good.”

Gwynn is currently San Diego State’s baseball coach. The Aztecs open the season Friday night. The school said Gwynn should be able to return to his job in the near future.

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