Al Roker, the co-host and weather forecaster of NBC’s “Today” show for more than 20 years, has prostate cancer, he revealed Friday, announcing he would briefly leave the program for treatment.
Roker, 66, shared the news during the show’s morning broadcast. He said he learned of the cancer after a routine medical checkup in September when his doctor found an elevated prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, in his blood work. A subsequent MRI and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.
He said he wanted to share the news publicly to highlight that prostate cancer is common, saying that 1 in 7 African American men receive the diagnosis in their lifetime.
“It’s a good news, bad news kind of thing,” he said during the broadcast. “The 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.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, according to the American Cancer Society. About 1 in 9 men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during his lifetime, the organization said. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 years old and up, and the average age of diagnosis is 66.
“If you detect it early, this is a really treatable disease, and it’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,” Roker said.
He said he would have surgery next week to have his prostate removed by Dr. Vincent Laudone.
“Fortunately, his cancer appears somewhat limited or confined to the prostate,” Laudone said on the show. “But because it’s more aggressive, we wanted to treat it, and we settled on removing the prostate.”
Roker said, “We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back.”
Viewers have followed Roker’s weather reports, special features and amiable morning banter on the “Today” show since 1996, as well as previous medical treatments. He had surgeries on his right shoulder, left hip and right knee in the last four years, according to NBC. During his long tenure on morning TV, he has become a familiar fixture in many homes, reporting on the daily weather, natural disasters and the Olympics; co-hosting holiday specials; and writing several books.