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Curt Schilling

I Have Mouth Cancer

... Blames Chewing Tobacco

8/20/2014 6:46 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0820-curt-schilling-getty-01

Former MLB pitching great Curt Schilling says he was diagnosed with mouth cancer back in February ... and believes it was caused from his 30-year habit of chewing tobacco. 

The former Boston Red Sox pitcher says he stayed quiet about the diagnosis for months for two reasons -- he didn't want people to pity him and he didn't want to get into the chewing tobacco debate.

Still, 47-year-old Schilling says ... "I'll go to my grave believing that [chewing tobacco] was why I got what I got ... absolutely, no question in my mind about that."

Schilling says he learned about the cancer only after seeing a doctor about a dog bite wound on his finger -- and felt a lump in his neck. 

He got it checked out -- and it turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma ... aka mouth cancer. 

Schilling says he went through several weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments -- and says the whole thing hurt like hell. 

"The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful."

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