EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -Minnesota Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze has a form of leukemia, which is cancer of the blood and bone marrow, a person with the team confirmed Tuesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. The Vikings declined to comment, but they issued a statement from coach Brad Childress that didn't specifically address Udeze's condition.
``We respect the privacy of Kenechi. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Minnesota Vikings organization are with Kenechi and his family,'' the statement read.
Two Twin Cities television stations first reported the news on Monday night. KSTP-TV, without citing a source, reported that the 24-year-old Udeze was undergoing tests to determine the severity of the disease. Ethan Lock, Udeze's agent, declined to comment.
Without details about how quickly the cancer was identified or what form of leukemia Udeze has, there's no way of knowing a prognosis.
t. The upcoming season is in question for Udeze, who was drafted out of Southern California in the first round in 2004. He started 15 games last year for the Vikings and tied his career high with five sacks.
Dr. Mark Reding, a University of Minnesota Cancer Center and Medical School hematologist who does not have specific knowledge of Udeze's case, said there are two forms of leukemia, chronic and acute.
People under 65 are almost always diagnosed with the acute form, which requires aggressive chemotherapy. Younger and healthier patients have a wider range of treatment options, Reding said, but from diagnosis to remission the process often takes at least six months.
``Just because somebody's a pro athlete doesn't mean they're going to take it any better than you or I are,'' Reding said. ``This will kick anybody in the teeth, the kind of chemo we're talking about.''
A statement of support from USC coach Pete Carroll was posted on his official Web site.
``Kenechi's got a big battle on his hands,'' Carroll said. ``We've been talking with him, and we will continue to support him and send our good wishes and prayers his way. We know he's going to come through strong and compete against this disease like a warrior, like he always has competed.''
Vikings safety Darren Sharper offered his support, too.
``It's a tough situation, and he's going to have to continue to battle and fight,'' Darren Sharper told KSMP-TV, the other station that initially reported the news.
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