Doctors say the prognosis for Troy Aikman is excellent after the Dallas Cowboys quarterback had a cancerous mole removed from his upper back.
The growth on the back of Aikman's left shoulder was a malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
"If you don't catch it, it can be deadly," Aikman said. "I'm fortunate that we found it early and got it out."
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said Aikman discovered a mark on his back a couple of months ago.
The quarterback was on a family vacation in Hawaii recently when his sisters, both of whom are nurses, told him he should get the growth checked.
A biopsy performed last week by Dr. Jerald Sklar determined the mole was cancerous.
"Fortunately, what the biopsy also showed was that it was detected in its earliest stage," Dalrymple said. "Which means that this particular melanoma, when it is detected early, has a 100 percent rate of being able to be cured.
"It was important that they got it when they did."
The mole was removed on Friday, leaving Aikman with 11 stitches. He worked out at Valley Ranch on Tuesday and expects no other effects from the cancer.
But Aikman said he knows that having had one cancerous growth, he is at greater risk for others.
"I'm more inclined to get it again," Aikman said. "But you just have to check yourself regularly and find it. If you don't check yourself you can get in trouble."
Sklar said more than 1 million people will learn this year that they have skin cancer. More than 41,000 will be melanoma cases, and more than 7,300 will die this year from melanoma.
"This is a case in point of how important it is to catch melanomas early," Sklar said. "A melanoma that goes undetected can spread internally ... and the results can be devastating."
Cowboys trainer Jim Maurer said the team warns players about the dangers of sun exposure. NFL teams give physicals to players every year and provide an abundant amount of sunscreen.
"Troy was lucky to find it. And we are happy it was all taken care of," he said.
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