Today Show Host Al Roker Prostate Cancer Announcement

Longtime TODAY weatherman and co-host Al Roker announced Friday that he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery to treat the disease.

Roker, 66, said, “It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing. The good news is we caught it early. The 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.”

Part of the male reproductive system, prostate glands are walnut-sized glands that secrete fluids that support sperm cells. Prostate cancer starts in the prostate glands, located above the rectum, below the bladder, surrounding the urethra (1).

The most common form of prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma. Rare types of prostate cancer are sarcoma transitional cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include (2):

  • Urinary changes:
    • in frequency – more often
    • in urgency – need to go intensified
  • feeling you cannot empty the bladder
  • pain during urination
  • blood in urine or semen
  • painful ejaculation

There is no cure for cancer, so early detection and treating the disease during an early stage can improve your chance to beat the disease. The cancers with the highest 5-year relative survival rates (3):

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Prostate cancer
  3. Testicular cancer
  4. Thyroid cancer
  5. Melanoma

Dr. Vincent Laudone of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York will perform the procedure on Roker.

“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,” Laudone said Friday on TODAY.

Surgery is expected if cancer has not spread outside the prostate gland. The primary type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy. The entire prostate gland is removed, plus some of the tissue around it, including the seminal vesicles.

The types of surgery vary (4):

Open prostatectomy

  • Radical retropubic prostatectomy
  • Radical perineal prostatectomy

Laparoscopic prostatectomy

  • Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy
  • Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

A Guinness World Record holder, Roker worked an uninterrupted live weather report for 34 hours, wrapping the effort on Nov. 14, 2014, at 8 a.m. ET. He has hosted NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1995.

Roker has shared other health issues throughout his tenure. In 2001, he underwent a left knee replacement. He underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2002, a back operation in 2005, another knee replacement surgery in 2016, carpal tunnel surgery in 2018, and hip replacement surgery last year.

Roker added prostate cancer is “a little more common than people realize. One in 9 men is going to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. For African-American men, that number is 1 in 7 and is more deadly.

“I don’t want people thinking, ‘Oh, poor Al.’ I’m gonna be OK.”

 

Citations:

(1) What is Prostate Cancer? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/p/prostate-cancer

(2) Prostate cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353087

(3) What are the most curable cancers? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322700

(4) Surgery for Prostate Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/surgery.html