DENVER - A testicular tumor removed from Denver Nuggets forward Nene was malignant. The team said Tuesday the tumor was discovered early, and tests showed the cancer was isolated.
Denver Nuggets forward Nene, of Brazil, waits to make a free throw against the Golden State Warriors in an NBA basketball game in Denver in this Dec. 30, 2007 file photo. A testicular tumor removed from the Nuggets forward was malignant, the team said Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008, but the tumor was discovered early and tests showed the cancer was isolated.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
"The recovery rate is extremely high," the Nuggets said in a written statement. "In addition, the odds of a recurrence are very small."
The Brazilian player underwent surgery Jan. 14 to remove the tumor. The team said he was doing well, but there was no timetable for his return.
Nene's Web site had posted a statement last week saying the tumor was benign, but that announcement later was removed.
The Brazilian news magazine, Epoca, reported on its Web site the tumor was small and was completely removed in surgery, citing Nene's Brazilian urologist Dr. Fernando Kim. Examinations of his blood, lungs, pelvis and abdomen showed there was no other tumor in his body.
"There is no sign the disease has spread," Kim told the magazine, adding the player was recovering "physically and psychologically extremely well."
Nene's right testicle was removed, and the early diagnosis made it "close to 100 percent" sure that the treatment was successful, Epoca said. He added Nene would be sidelined at least until March, because two months was the minimum for recovery.
Nene took an indefinite leave of absence from the team on Jan. 11.
Nuggets coach George Karl has experienced a couple of health scares over the past few years. He was treated for prostate cancer in 2005; his son, Coby, was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, a form of treatable cancer, in January 2006 and had his thyroid removed three months later. Last April, Coby, who's now a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, underwent more surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes.
Nene, who is averaging 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, missed 22 games earlier this season after undergoing surgery on his left thumb. He was out for all but one game of the 2005-06 season after tearing a knee ligament.