By Sara Bondell - November 06, 2020
Al Roker revealed on TODAY that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Good news is, we caught it early,” Roker told viewers. “Not great news is that it’s a little aggressive, so I am going to be taking some time off to take care of this.”
The 66-year-old weatherman will be undergoing surgery to remove his prostate.
Dr. Julio Pow-Sang, chair of the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, says while surveillance is indicated for low risk prostate cancers, those with aggressive cancer usually undergo surgery or radiation.
“The two options are equivalent in cancer control as far as we currently know,” said Pow-Sang. “For the patient, it is a very difficult decision between the two. The best approach is to have a multidisciplinary team of specialists to advise the patient on cancer control and the risks and complications of each treatment type.”
Roker hopes by sharing his story he can encourage others, especially Black men, to keep up with their routine checkups. One in six African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and they are nearly 80% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than white men.
Pow-Sang says increasing diversity in clinical trials will help close that gap. “While the results from ongoing studies are encouraging, we need to redouble our efforts to enroll Black patients in clinical trials to confirm the findings, to collect more tissue samples and data in order to learn what the genetic differences may be,” he said.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends African American men talk to their doctor about screening at age 40. The American Cancer Society recommends African Americans and all men with a family history of cancer talk to their doctor about screening at age 45.