On this Friday’s “Today” show, Al Roker revealed that he had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would be undergoing surgery very soon. Al Roker, one of television’s most beloved weathermen, said that his prostate cancer came to light during one of his routine checkups this past September.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing,” he said. “Good news is we caught it early. The not great news is that it’s a little aggressive, so I’m going to be taking some time off to take care of this.”
The reason Roker wanted to bring his illness into the public eye is due to the fact that nearly 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. For African American men, in particular, that number shrinks down to 1 in 7, which is very dangerous.
“So if you detect it early this is a really treatable disease and it’s why I wanted to take you along my journey so we can all learn together how to educate and protect the men in our lives,” he said.
New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is where Roker is set to have his surgery performed next week.
“His cancer appears somewhat confined to the prostate,” says his cancer surgeon Dr. Vincent Laudone. However, because the cancer is quite aggressive, the plan is to remove his prostate altogether.
According to Roker, renowned journalist Deborah Roberts, his wife, is his biggest supporter. He also noted that he does not want people to feel sorry for him, but instead take this as a learning experience.
“We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back” on “Today,” he said.
Al says that he wants to share his journey with other men who are at risk for this type of cancer, and more specifically black men. He wants to make sure that they continue to visit their doctors to receive routine checkups so that the cancer is easily treatable if detected at the right time.
“The problem for African American men is that any number of reasons from genetics to access to health care, and so we want to make it available and let people know they got to get checked,” Al said.
This issue is one that Al has long been a proponent of. In fact, he received a prostate exam live on the “Today” show back in 2013 and teamed up with Craig Melvin and the New Jersey Devils to put out a prostate health PSA back in 2019.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation makes a strong recommendation for African American men to be screened for prostate cancer once they hit 40. A similar recommendation was put out by the American Cancer Society as well.
Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center’s cancer surgeon, Dr. Carol Brown, says that African American men are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to white men. They are also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer.