What Al Roker Wants People To Know About His Experience With Cancer

"Today" host Al Roker revealed in November 2020 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He explained the diagnosis came after a routine doctor's visit he'd had a couple of months prior, and he was slated to have surgery to remove the cancerous tissue the week after his announcement. Now, several months out from that initial diagnosis, he's sharing more about his experience.

Roker said during his initial "Today" announcement that it was good the cancer was caught early. However, it was also a rather aggressive form of the disease. Ahead of his surgery, he hoped he'd be able to return to the show about two weeks after the procedure, and he managed to do just that. The "Today" personality returned to the set on November 23, 2020, and he said he was feeling good. His surgeon removed his prostate, some lymph nodes, and associated tissue, and the operation lasted about five hours. The post-surgery pathology report revealed there was no additional cancer found, which was a "great relief" to Roker.

"For a first start, this is terrific news. I'm going to be up for — and a lot of people who live with cancer — up for lifelong testing to make sure this doesn't come back," Roker said at the time of his "Today" show return. But his cancer wouldn't have been detected early if he'd skipped his checkup, and the 14-time Emmy winner is encouraging fans to take care of their health, too.

Roker urges everyone to follow one key health recommendation

During the third hour of "Today" on May 18, Al Roker admitted he'd hesitated to go to the physical he had last fall. "I was going to put off my annual checkup, decided back in September, let me just get this done," he explained. In retrospect, he's realized his timing with going ahead with that September date was essential. "If I hadn't, (it) would not have detected the prostate cancer, which was very aggressive," he said.

Roker noted that had the cancer not been found for another three or four months, his "outlook and outcome might have been completely different" because of how aggressive it was. He wants others to learn from his experience so they don't end up in a position like the one he could have faced, with a later diagnosis and cancer progression. "I cannot stress enough to people, go out there and get your checkup, make sure you get checked," Roker implored of "Today" viewers.

Roker's early diagnosis and quick response with getting his surgery has paid off. He noted that he had just gone through his six-month followup checkup, and everything looked good. He explained that his PSA Test, the prostate-specific antigen test, came back "undetectable," and he's thrilled to be doing well and sharing his story with others. Routine health screenings may not seem like a big deal, but as Roker has demonstrated, they can be essential.