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Mumme to have cancer surgery on Wednesday

Former University of Kentucky football coach Hal Mumme will undergo surgery for prostate cancer Wednesday morning at the University of Kentucky Hospital.

Mumme, 56, said he decided to return to Kentucky for treatment because of the care his wife received at the Markey Cancer Center more than a decade ago when she was treated for breast cancer.

"I could have gone other places," Mumme said. "But when we looked at everything, this was the place I wanted to come."

Mumme was upbeat about his diagnosis and joked with reporters during a news conference Tuesday at UK.

Mumme's cancer was caught early and does not appear to have spread beyond the prostate, said Dr. Stephen Strup, chief urologist at UK. Doctors won't know for sure until pathology reports come back about a week after the surgery, Strup said.

The surgery is minimally invasive, lasts two to three hours and is conducted with the help of a robot. Mumme should be able to go home after a day or so and should be fully recovered by March, Strup said.

Mumme, who was fired by New Mexico State in December after the team lost seven straight games, hopes to return to coaching in time for the 2009 season, "if I can get somebody to let me do it," he joked.

"I'd like to be a head coach again," he said later. "I'm kind of no good at anything else."

Mumme was head coach at Kentucky from 1997 until 2000. He left the university during a recruiting scandal that ended with the school's football program being placed on probation.

Mumme had signs of prostate problems since before the 2008 football season. He was first treated for an infection in his prostate, unrelated to the cancer, but he didn't seek treatment after tests showed, mid-season, that he still had elevated levels of PSA in his blood. PSA is a protein that is used as a marker for prostate problems.

Doctors wanted to biopsy his prostate to rule out cancer, but Mumme waited until January to have the test done.

The decision to not seek treatment was "pure stupidity," Mumme said. "I wouldn't recommend it."

Mumme said he was like "most men" before he was diagnosed. He didn't know anything about the prostate. "I can't even say it right," he said. "I say 'prostrate' most of the time."

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, after skin cancer, in men, according to the American Cancer Society.

Most men do not have symptoms of prostate cancer, Strup said.

Mumme said he decided to go public about the cancer to quash rumors that it was more severe. He said there was no truth to reports that the cancer had spread to other parts of his body, including his brain.

"There are probably a lot of people who have questioned that I had brain cancer," he joked.

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