Nicole Gibbs, ranked 117th in the world and a former NCAA champion, ‘has withdrawn from this month’s French Open after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer’ according to the BBC. Gibbs released a statement on Twitter announcing her diagnosis with Mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a form of salivary gland cancer, discovered by her dentist. The American discovered the health issue after noticing a growth on the roof of her mouth which a biopsy later confirmed was cancerous.
Fortunately, Gibbs, who will undergo surgery on Friday, has stated that the prognosis is positive, with her doctors confident that the operation to remove the tumour will be the only necessary treatment. Cancers of the salivary gland are rare, accounting for less than 1% of cancer diagnoses in the United States of America, and occur mostly in those over the age of 50, with an average age of diagnosis age of 64. However, Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is most common amongst adults aged between 20 and 40.
It is, of course, impossible and indeed would be improper to speculate on the specifics of Gibbs’ case beyond what she has herself thus far revealed. However, when detected early cancers of the salivary gland rarely prove fatal, with the most common and appropriate medical response surgery to remove the growth. This hopefully appears to be the case with Gibbs, according to her statement linked above.
The American currently has hopes of competing in the Wimbledon qualifying, which is scheduled to begin on the 25th of June. With Gibbs expected to be out for between four and six weeks, that may ultimately prove impossible. That said, Gibbs, who has been in action at ITF-level, with her doctor’s approval, since receiving the diagnosis has expressed hopes of cutting down on that recovery time. But a return on the hard courts of North America looks more than possible for the former Stanford Cardinal.
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