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Thursday, June 11, 2009

UNLV football assistant Uperesa undergoing treatment for cancer

UNLV interior offensive line coach Keith Uperesa underwent surgery for thyroid cancer last month, but there is hope the disease was discovered early enough.

"The prognosis is good, but you never know with something like that," coach Mike Sanford said Wednesday. "The effect on his future and his status is unknown at this time, because he has more treatment coming up. We are understanding of his situation, and we're going to encourage him to do what he needs to do from a treatment standpoint."

Sanford said he expected Uperesa to be able to resume his duties for the season.

"I think there are going to be times he will be gone and do his treatments," Sanford said.

An attempt to reach Uperesa, who turns 54 next month, was unsuccessful.

Sanford said Uperesa's cancer diagnosis was made recently, and he underwent surgery in May at UCLA to remove cancerous nodules and lymph nodes.

His treatments will take place in Salt Lake City.

According to, thyroid cancer is not common but is highly treatable and often caught early.

A benefit golf tournament is planned for Wednesday in American Fork, Utah, by the Polynesian Coaches Association.

Uperesa was an All-Western Athletic Conference offensive lineman at Brigham Young from 1974 to 1977. He graduated from BYU in 1984 and received a master's degree there in 1986.

He has been at UNLV since 2005, following Sanford from Utah.

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