Today host Al Roker, who came to that role as one of the best-known and most widely-respected meteorologists in America, revealed today that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and took some time on the air to talk about his journey and encourage at-risk groups, particularly Black men over 40, to get regular checks in order to catch any potential cancer before it spreads. For his own case, Roker said that they caught the cancer early, but that it was aggressive, so he will be taking some time away from Today to undergo treatment. He did not project an exact return date, but expects it to be soon.
Roker said that he wanted to go public with his diagnosis in order to help bring awareness to the prevalence of the disease, which impacts about one in nine men. Among Black men, the odds are more like one in seven.
"We'll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I'll be back [on Today]," Roker said in the video, which you can see on the show's website.
"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," Dr. Vincent Laudone, who will perform surgery on Roker next week, told the show.
"Another important message to know is that there are no symptoms with early prostate cancer," said Dr. Carol Brown, a surgeon at Memorial Sloane Kettering, where Roker's procedure will take place. "So screening saves lives, and African American men need to get screened and should get screened usually starting at age 40."
Roker echoed the sentiment about a lack of symptoms during his statement, noting that he didn't feel any different, and nobody knew until he told them.
"This one was kind of just a weird feeling that nobody can outwardly see anything different about me," he said. "I looked in the mirror, there was nothing outwardly different. But I knew there was something intrinsically, inherently, internally different."
Prior to his diagnosis, Roker had already been an advocate for prostate cancer awareness, appearing in a public service announcement last year with the New Jersey Devils hockey team and his fellow Today personality Craig Melvin.
Dr. Laudone said that he believes Roker will be able to resume his normal activities not long after the surgery.