Instead, the longtime Buffalo Bills star will likely first be treated with chemotherapy and radiation, according to a statement from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"Jim Kelly's condition remains very treatable and potentially curable," Dr. Peter Costantino said in the statement. "Our immediate focus is on controlling his pain and beginning the process of eradicating the cancer."
Kelly underwent surgery in Buffalo last June to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from his upper jaw. He had been expected to undergo additional surgery this week or next week after the cancer was found to have returned, his brother, Dan Kelly, said Tuesday.
Costantino said surgery remains a potential part of the treatment strategy for the cancer that he said is present in Kelly's maxillary sinus and adjacent tissues.
"His cancer returned in a location that requires specialized expertise in the treatment of skull-based tumors," the hospital statement said.
Kelly's wife, Jill, in an online posting said the plan had changed because of "the complexity and aggressive nature of this cancer and after more scans and tests."
"The cancer is in areas that surgery cannot successfully eradicate," Jill Kelly wrote.
Kelly spent 11 seasons with the Bills and led them to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, only to lose them all. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Well wishes have poured in by the thousands on Twitter under the hashtag "prayersforjk," including from numerous NFL franchises and players.
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