"Dr. Keith Richardson, the treating physician from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), indicated that the cancer is located at the base of the tongue. Lapointe will begin his treatments in the coming weeks. This form of cancer has a high cure rate.
"The family wishes to thank the personnel at the MUHC as well as all hockey fans and asks for respect of their privacy as they face this challenge."
Lapointe won six Stanley Cups with the Habs. In 14 seasons with the club, the blue-liner recorded 572 points in 777 regular season games. He enjoyed brief stints with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins before his retirement in 1984.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Habs retired his No. 5 in 2014. The 71-year-old is currently employed by the Minnesota Wild as an amateur scout.