Al Roker announced on TODAY that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will be undergoing surgery to have his prostate removed.
The 66-year-old TODAY weatherman and co-host explained he wanted to publicly reveal his diagnosis to spotlight the fact that 1 in 7 African American men, 1 in 9 men overall, will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing,” Al said. “Good news is we caught it early. 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.”
Al will be undergoing surgery next week at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where Dr. Vincent Laudone will perform the procedure.
“We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back (on TODAY),” Al said.
“Fortunately his cancer appears somewhat limited or confined to the prostate, but because it’s more aggressive, we wanted to treat it, and after discussion regarding all of the different options — surgery, radiation, focal therapy — we settled on removing the prostate,” Laudone said on TODAY.
Al is sharing his journey to urge others at risk, particularly Black men, to make sure they see a doctor to get the proper checkups to stop a cancer that is very treatable if detected early.
“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.
It’s an issue Al has long championed, whether it was combining with TODAY’s Craig Melvin and the New Jersey Devils for a 2019 public service announcement about prostate health, or getting a prostate exam live on TODAY in 2013.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends African American men talk to their doctor about being screened for prostate cancer at age 40. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing screenings at age 45 for African Americans and men who have had a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer before 65. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all men ages 55-69 talk to their doctors about being screened.
Dr. Carol Brown, a cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, said on TODAY that African American men are 50% more like to get prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from it than white men in the United States.
“Another important message to know is that there are no symptoms with early prostate cancer,” Brown said. “So screening saves lives, and African American men need to get screened and should get screened usually starting at age 40.”
The detection of Al’s prostate cancer began with a routine physical when his doctor discovered he had an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in his bloodwork. That led to him getting an MRI, followed by a biopsy, to confirm his diagnosis.
Al opened up about the moment on Sept. 29 when he was told by his doctor that he had prostate cancer.
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