A visit to her dentist has resulted in a cancer diagnosis that has forced Nicole Gibbs to withdraw from the French Open and to skip the rest of the clay-court season.
Her dentist discovered that Gibbs, a 26-year-old American, has a rare salivary gland cancer and she will undergo surgery Friday, she announced on Twitter.
“About a month ago, I went to the dentist and was alerted to a growth on the roof of my mouth,” she wrote. “The biopsy came back positive for a rare cancer called mucoepidermoid carcinoma (salivary gland cancer). Fortunately, this form of cancer has a great prognosis and my surgeon is confident that surgery alone will be sufficient treatment. He even okayed me to play an extra couple of tournaments these past few weeks, which served as a nice distraction.”
Gibbs, who is from Cincinnati and is based in Santa Monica, Calif., writes that her goal is to be “ready for Wimbledon qualifying at the end of June. We are told to expect a 4-6 week recovery period, but I will be doing everything possible to shave that down and get back to full health as soon as possible. I am feeling extremely grateful for the UCLA health network that’s been taking care of me and for the rock solid friends and family who are helping me every step of the way. See you back on the court soon.”
Gibbs won NCAA singles and team titles at Stanford and is ranked 116th in the world. Her career-best ranking is 68th and she reached the third round at the 2014 U.S. Open and 2017 Australian Open.
Mucoepidermoid carcinomas are the most common types of salivary gland cancers, according to the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. Most start in the parotid glands, it notes, which are in front of and just below each ear. They usually are low grade, but can be indeterminate or high grade.
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