Buffalo, N.Y. - Jim Kelly's oral cancer is fairly common among head and neck cancers.

Like all cancers, it has four stages, with stage one being the least serious.

Kelly, as is his right, has not said publicly what his diagnosis is.

He says he'll have surgery Friday at ECMC and the fact that his first course of treatment is surgery could be a good sign, meaning perhaps the cancer is still in its early stages.

Dr. Kandala Chary, CCS Oncology: "If it's detected early the choice of removal would be surgery.I think the very early stages of head and neck cancer are curable, most patients do extremely well. For Stage One and Stage Two of the disease the ten year survival rate is pretty high, I would say in the range of 70 plus percent."

The type of oral cancer Kelly has is most typically caused by:

* Nicotine use

* Alcohol use

* And a virus that can be transmitted through oral sex

Scott Brown: "He says he had pain in his jaw, does that necessarily mean that's where the cancer began?"

Dr. Sam Yi, Medical Director CCS Oncology:"Not necessarily, a lot of times the patient presents with the tumor growing inside the mouth and it may grow and then invade into adjacent bony tissue or the jaw area."

Kelly is 53 years old and according to the American Cancer Society:

*Only about a quarter of all of these type of cancers take place in someone younger than 55.

* Men are twice as likely to get it as women.

* About 36,000 people a year develop this type of cancer and about seven thousand people a year die from it.