Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died Monday after battling mouth cancer for years. Gwynn, a former resident of Fishers, was 54 years old.
Gwynn had been undergoing cancer treatments and had two surgeries in 2010 and 2012. Doctors believe Gwynn’s death could have been prevented with early detection.
The Hall of Fame outfielder spent his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres and was known as one of the game’s greatest hitters.
Gywnn was a 15-time All-Star who admitted that it was his chewing tobacco habit that likely gave him mouth cancer.
Dr. Tod Huntley is an otolaryngologist with Centa at St. Vincent Health.
"If he presented when it was a small little spot, it could have been taken care of easily. It's just that most of these don't present to us until they're at a fairly advanced stage," Huntley said.
Gwynn retired from the Padres in 2001 and became the head baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University.
He was diagnosed with cancer almost a decade later. In March, Gwynn took a medical leave of absence following his two surgeries.
Doctors who didn’t treat the former major leaguer think that the cancer was likely on the inside of his right cheek.
Experts said 48,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year and 8,000 people die annually from the disease -- often tobacco is the culprit.
"These are chemical agents that cause the cancer, in a sense, they're also lifestyle causes that can be corrected. Habits can be changed," Huntley said.
Doctors said that when caught early, oral cancers are preventable -- often with just an office procedure. Early screenings are often performed by dentists during regular cleanings.
Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt
Man hurt in drive-by shooting on city's NW side
A man hit in a drive-by shooting early Friday on the city's northwest side is expected to recover from his injuries, police said.
5 people injured in chain-reaction crash on I-65
Five people were injured in a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 65 near Columbus late Thursday, Indiana State Police said.
IPS approves new staff policy for student fights
Indianapolis Public Schools board members are discussing changing the district’s policy when it comes to teachers intervening in…
Infant rescue a reminder of importance of CPR
A local day care owner performed CPR on an 11-month-old child in her care for seven minutes to save her life.
Surgery increases chance of success after stroke
A surgery performed at a local hospital is helping to increase the chances of success for stroke victims.