TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – TODAY Show’s Al Roker revealed to viewers Friday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery to have his prostate removed.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing,” Roker said. “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.”
According to TODAY, Roker will have surgery next week at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
“We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back (on TODAY),” Roker said.
Roker said he was sharing his story with others to encourage those at risk, particularly Black men, to get screened starting at 40. It is estimated that 1 in 7 black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
“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,” Al said.
Richard Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia Restuarant and others, is a prostate cancer survivor.
“If you have it in your family like I did, father, it’s a good chance you’re gonna have it,” Gonzmart said.
Gonzmart is a fierce advocate for prostate cancer testing and helping men stay healthy. That’s why for years he’s hosted Richard’s Run For Life, an event to raise money for Moffitt Cancer Center.
‘This year because if COVID, it’s a ‘run alone together virtual event. The real effort though, is to raise awareness. It can be beat, but men, African-American, Latino, you have it in your family, one out of three, you gotta get checked,” Gonzmart said.
That’s why he says, Roker’s announcement is so important. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
It’s more likely to develop in older men and in African-American men. About 6 cases in 10 are in men 65 or older. It is rare in men under 40 though it happens. The average age at diagnosis is about 66.
Moffitt Cancer Center Dr. Kosj Yamoah said, more men need to be like Al and like Richard and speak out and get tested.
“I want to encourage all men… all men, especially men of African origin to see this as an opportunity to be on the frontlines of their own health,” he said.
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