Al Roker announced on the Today show that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The longtime weatherman shared the tough news on Friday, November 6, revealing he was initially diagnosed following a checkup back in September.
Read on to see what he told viewers this morning and why he decided to go public with his diagnosis.
The 66-year-old explained that though doctors were able to catch it early, the cancer is aggressive and he’ll need to undergo surgery.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing. Good news is we caught it early,” he shared.
“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.”
Wanting to Help Others
While it’s never easy to hear the word “cancer,” it’s even harder to share your diagnosis with millions of people around the world.
However, despite the challenge ahead, Roker wanted to go public to encourage other men to make sure to get checked routinely, specifically African American men.
“It’s one of those things that it’s a little more common than people realize. I just decided that I wanted to go public with this because one in nine men are gonna be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime,” he shared.
“But for African American men, that number is one in seven, and is more deadly. If you detect it early this is a really treatable disease, and that’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.”
Receiving His Diagnosis
Roker then reflected on the moment he received his diagnosis, explaining he didn’t expect to hear the word “cancer” at all.
His doctor brought him into his office for a follow-up, which Roker knew right away was a bad sign.
“When he started, he closed his door and said, ‘I always like to have these discussions face to face.’ And I was like, ‘Uh-oh. Well, that doesn’t sound good,’” he shared.
“You hear the word ‘cancer’ and your mind goes, it’s the next level, you know?”
Following a routine physical in September, doctors found elevated levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in his bloodwork.
“It’s the first line of defense when detecting possible prostate cancer,” Roker explained. “I think most guys are familiar with the digital prostate exam, but other than that, no one really pays attention.”
There are no symptoms with early prostate cancer — which explains why Roker was feeling great prior to being diagnosed — so it’s very important for men to get routine checkups.
Roker’s doctor, Dr. Vincent Laudone, also appeared on the show to explain his treatment plan moving forward.
“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,” he explained.
Roker will undergo surgery next week and is hoping to be back on the Today show in about two weeks.