Beloved weatherman Al Roker, a staple of NBC News for more than 40 years, announced earlier today that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and will be taking time off to undergo surgery to battle the disease.
Like a true professional, Al didn’t flinch as he shared the sombre news, and he took the opportunity to use his announcement as a kind of PSA, stressing the importance of regular prostate exams for men, and particularly for African-American men, who are particularly at risk of developing the disease.
Roker’s own cancer was caught in a routine medical checkup back in September, and because the doctors are confident they’ve caught it early, it’s much more treatable than if they had caught it late.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing. 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.”
Because of COVID-related interference, Roker had not had a health screening for 18 months prior to his September visit, but his surgeon, Dr. Vincent Laudone, stressed that the cancer had not spread beyond the prostate, and so Roker’s prognosis is positive. Roker shared in that optimism, underscoring that prostate cancer is “the second most treatable cancer out there,” after breast cancer, and expressed the desire for greater access to health screenings, which can help save lives by catching the disease before it spreads.
His surgery will be performed at New York’s own Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the nation’s most reputable hospitals, and Roker is confident he will make a swift return to NBC: “We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back on ‘Today.'”
Roughly 1 in 9 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes, but that number rises to 1 in 7 when looking at African-American men in particular, in whom the disease is also more lethal. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can’t happen to you: get a regular screening, particularly after you turn 40 – it could save your life.