Beloved television personality Al Roker revealed Friday on NBC’s “Today” show that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will be having surgery.
The 66-year-old, who has been a “Today” weather anchor and co-host for decades, said he wanted to make his diagnosis public to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection, particularly for Black men.
“It’s a little more common than people realize, so I just decided that I wanted to go public with this because 1 in 9 men are going to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime,” Roker said. “But for African-American men that number is 1 in 7, and is more deadly.”
“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,” he explained.
Roker was diagnosed at the end of September after a doctor’s visit where an elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level was identified in his bloodwork. Following an MRI and a biopsy, they verified the diagnosis. He emphasized that finding the cancer early is what really has increased his chances of a successful recovery.
“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.”
The Today website reports that next week Roker will be undergoing surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where Dr. Vincent Laudone will be operating.
“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,” said Laudone on “Today.”
“We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back,” Roker said.
When asked how he has kept up a positive attitude in the face of this news, the weatherman credited his great “support system,” including his family, for being a source of love and inspiration. “These are the things I’m living for. Let’s not take those away,” Roker said.
Roker has made the cause of prostate cancer awareness a priority in his career. In 2019 he teamed up with “Today” anchor Craig Melvin and the New Jersey Devils for a public service announcement about prostate health. In 2013 Roker underwent a live prostate exam on the show.
Roker said Friday he was in great spirits and ready to tackle whatever challenges his treatment presents.
“I don’t want people thinking, ‘Oh, poor Al,’ you know, because I’m gonna be OK,” Roker said.