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Tortorella OK after having skin cancer growth removed from forehead

Blue Jackets coach says condition not serious, will be behind bench against Stars

by Craig Merz / Independent Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- John Tortorella had a minor procedure to remove basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, from his forehead Tuesday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets coach had a small bruise from the incision when he met with the media prior to the Blue Jackets hosting the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m.; FS-O, FS-SW, NHL.TV).

Tortorella, who will coach against the Stars, said the condition is not serious and that he had been delaying the procedure for some time.

According to the American Cancer Society, basal cell, along with squamous cell, are the most common types of skin cancer and usually develop on sun-exposed areas of the face, head and neck. Deaths from each type are uncommon.

The organization estimates 5.4 million basal and squamous cancers are diagnosed with eight of 10 being basal. The risk of getting basal skin cancer increases with age; the chances of it returning range from 5-15 percent depending on the size of the tumor.

A common method to remove the basal carcinoma is an excision where a dermatologist removes the skin cancer and some normal skin around to prevent further spreading.

The 61-year-old was not at practice on Tuesday for what a team spokesperson said was a "personal matter."

He joked Wednesday that doctors had to cut into his head because he had too much gray matter. As he walked back to his office he turned to media members and said, "I can give you guys some if you want."

Tortorella will coach his 1,263rd NHL game on Wednesday (624-496-105 with 37 ties) to pass Jacques Lemaire for 15th place on the all-time list.

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