prostate cancer

Al Roker's Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Shines Light on Risk Factors

One in six African American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Weatherman and morning TV co-host Al Roker has revealed that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will be undergoing surgery to have his prostate removed.

"It's a good news-bad news kind of thing," Roker said Friday on NBC's "Today." "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."

Roker revealed he got the diagnosis Sept. 29. It began with a routine physical when his doctor discovered he had an elevated prostate-specific antigen in his bloodwork. That led to him getting an MRI, followed by a biopsy, to confirm his diagnosis.

"The problem for African Americans 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," Roker said.

The 66-year-old TV personality urged others at risk -- particularly Black men -- to ensure they see a doctor and get the proper checkups to stop a cancer that is very treatable if detected early.

"It's a highly treatable disease if caught early," said UT Southwestern Medical Center Associate Professor of Urology Dr. Jeffrey Gahan. "African American men are at a particularly higher risk of being diagnosed and dying of the disease and it doesn't have to be that way."

Roker, a father of three, was by himself when he received the diagnosis. That made his wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, upset. "I feel badly, because I didn't tell Deborah to come with me," he said. "In hindsight, boy I wish I'd told her to come."

Former professional basketball player Ed Sanders and his wife Patricia have been there. Together they founded 50 Hoops, an organization dedicated to promoting cancer screening -- which involves nothing more than a blood test.

"It is so much easier for men to say 'oh the pandemic is out there, let's just wait.' But prostate cancer is too important for a man, for our Black men to sit and wait and see," said Patricia Sanders.

Screening can be done during the blood work of a routine physical. Doctors look for elevated levels of a prostate-specific antigen and go from there if they find elevated PSA levels.

One in six African American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends Black men have a conversation about screening with their doctor at age 40.

The American Cancer Society says age 45 for African Americans and men who have a close family history of the disease. Everyone else should have a screening conversation around age 55.

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