Al Roker announced Friday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will take time off from TODAY to undergo surgery to have his prostate removed. The weatherman and co-host, 66, said on the NBC morning show that he wanted to publicly reveal his diagnosis to raise awareness that 1 in 7 Black men and 1 in 9 men overall, will have a similar diagnosis in their lifetime.
"I don't want people thinking, 'Oh, poor Al,' you know because I'm gonna be OK," Roker assured. He will be undergoing surgery next week at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where Dr. Vincent Laudone will perform the procedure.
Laudone said on Friday's TODAY: "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."
Roker revealed his prostate cancer was first detected after doctors determined an elevated prostate-specific antigen in his bloodwork during a routine physical, which led to an MRI and biopsy. On Sept. 29, Roker recalled being told he had prostate cancer. "When he started, he closed his door and said, 'I always like to have these discussions face to face,'" he recalled. "And I was like, 'Uh-oh. Well, that doesn't sound good.' ...You hear the word 'cancer' and your mind goes, it's the next level, you know?"
Roker added he felt "badly," as he told wife Deborah Roberts, an ABC News correspondent, not to attend the appointment with him. "In hindsight, boy I wish I'd told her to come," he added. "She was upset. And once she got past that, the reporter in her kinda took over. And then she's been at everything ever since!"
The day after his diagnosis, Roker went to work at TODAY, which he said was "just a weird feeling," as no one could see physically that anything was wrong. "I looked in the mirror, there was nothing outwardly different. But I knew there was something intrinsically, inherently, internally different," he said. Over the past four years, Roker has recovered from surgeries on his right shoulder, left hip and right knee, and the morning show co-host said he's ready to put this surgery behind him as well. "You know what?" he said. "If that's what it takes to get 2020 out, then let's just get it outta the way. Boom! So let's just finish it off. I'm ready. How about you?"