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Notable Notes |

Joe Roth The Star Quarterback Who Played Despite Melanoma

Walter H. C. Burgdorf, MD1; Steven Oldenbourg, BA2; Robert Eichhorst, BA3; Leonard J. Hoenig, MD4
[+] Author Affiliations
1Retired (Tutzing, Germany)
2Joe Roth #12 website
3Hudson Safe-T Light, San Diego
4private practice
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(11):1201. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.310.
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As the college football season approaches, it behooves us to recall Joe Roth (1955-1977), the University of California, Berkeley, star quarterback in the mid-1970s, and perhaps the most famous athlete to die of melanoma.1,2 His story demonstrates extreme personal courage and dramatically documents changes in melanoma diagnosis and management.

In the spring of his senior year at Granite Hills High School in San Diego, Joe noticed a bleeding and enlarging mole in front of his left ear. A physician burned off the ¼-in (approximately 6-mm) tumor but did not obtain a pathologic diagnosis. When the tumor recurred 6 months later, a dermatologist performed a biopsy. The pathological diagnosis was melanoma, so the tumor was completely reexcised. Routine 6-month checkups were uneventful.

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Photograph of Joe Roth. Courtesy Roth Family Archives.




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