Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Dies

Lung cancer complications tackle JoePa

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The winningest coach in football history, Joe Paterno, has died of complications from lung cancer.

The legendary Penn State football coach was 85 years old.

The Mount Nittany Medical Center said in a statement that the Paterno died of “metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung.”

A statement released Sunday morning by his family of five kids, 17 grandchildren and his wife Sue, said, "His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled."

Paterno led the Nittany Lions football team for 46 seasons, and compiled 409 career victories - more wins than any coach in the history of the game.

Paterno announced that he had "treatable lung cancer" shortly after his dismissal from Penn State. His family said it was diagnosed during a follow-up visit relating to a bronchial disease, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Small cell carcinoma of the lung is usually detected with imaging tests, including chest X-rays. Apparently, Paterno's disease had already reached an advanced stage and had spread beyond the lungs at the time it was diagnosed.

According to the National Cancer Institute, current treatments don't cure this form of lung cancer.

Then some weeks later, Paterno fell and broke his pelvic bone, which further deteriorated his overall health.

An article in Sporting News reported that in the next few months the man many called 'JoePa' became frail.

"His body was weakened by chemotherapy; his voice, the hard-scrabbled Brooklyn, N.Y. accent that stayed with him always, was reduced to a whisper," the article said.

The devastation of his firing and the scandal, a late diagnosis and then the pelvic fracture were apparently too much for the 85-year-old legend.

The family statement continued, "He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them."

"He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community."

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 22, 2012
Last Updated:
January 22, 2012