Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, 50, is battling parotid cancer and will soon begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments, according to a spokesperson for the SDSU Athletic Department.
He discovered the cancer last month after a third round of surgery, according to a published report.
"I had surgery for a parotid tumor in 1997 and again three years ago and both those times there was no cancer," Gwynn told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But this time they found a malignancy. They took out three lymph nodes and did all the tests and the results showed cancer in the parotid. "
The cancer is slow moving, but aggressive, he told the paper. A consultation is scheduled for Monday.
Gwynn said he was concerned the cancer could be linked to his career-long practice of using chewing tobacco.
"I haven't discussed that with the doctors yet, but I'm thinking it's related to dipping," said Gwynn, who resumed the practice of using chewing tobacco after the first two surgeries.
Dr. Kevin Brumund, a neck and throat specialist at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, told the newspaper there have been no studies linking parotid cancer and chewing tobacco, which is now banned in minor league baseball.
Gwynn said he plans to return as San Diego State's baseball coach.