Medical Challenges After Cancer
- Weatherman and anchor Al Roker is back at work on the TODAY show. He returned to work after taking two months off due to blood clots in his lungs; he was twice hospitalized for up to two weeks at a time.
- Roker was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in November 2020, thanks to a PSA test. These tests look for PSA in the bloodstream, which could indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
- People with a family history of prostate cancer – or other cancers – should begin screening for prostate cancer earlier than the average person. The current recommendation is to begin screening at age 50 if you have an average risk of prostate cancer.
- Roker treated his prostate cancer with surgery; other prostate cancer treatments include hormone therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Roker was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2020, and shared the news on-air with TODAY show viewers. He publicly battled his disease, raising awareness about prostate cancer in the process.Read More
Roker shares how he had health issues again beginning in November 2022; he woke up at night with severe stomach pains, and doctors found that he had blood clots in his lungs.
“I was more scared about the blood clots than anything else,” Roker tells PEOPLE. He went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and was admitted into the hospital on November 11.
There, doctors discovered that Roker had some internal bleeding as well. This altered the treatment path from using anticoagulants to another approach as doctors tried to figure out why he was bleeding internally.
His health caused him to miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in 27 years, but thankfully, he was able to spend Thanksgiving with his family.
Roker’s medical issues continued after the holiday, and it was determined that the bleeding was caused by “a perforation in his duodenum, the first part of the small intestine,” PEOPLE reports. Roker underwent surgery to have it repaired. Due to his previous gastric bypass surgery, it was initially more difficult for doctors to detect what was happening in his abdomen.
Today, Roker is back at work after championing over another medical obstacle. He is such an inspiration for all who are fighting a disease.
Roker’s Prostate Cancer Battle
In November 2020, Roker announced on air that he had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The longtime TODAY show co-host continued to be public about his battle with prostate cancer, and transparent about his treatment. Roker opted for surgery to treat his prostate cancer. Other prostate cancer treatments include hormone therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Roker recalls how a routine exam revealed his prostate cancer. Thinking everything would be okay, he told his wife she didn’t need to accompany him to his appointment. “It was a scheduled ‘let’s go over the results of your biopsy’ [type of thing],” says Roker. “The doctor closed the door and told Al, ‘I like to give these results in person,’” he recalls in an earlier interview.
Roker remembers how he thought for a moment: “Is there any way I could do this without telling [my wife] Deborah? Because she’ll be furious she wasn’t here.” Roker says Deborah’s journalistic skills went into “over-drive” after his diagnosis.
Rates of Advanced Prostate Cancer Have Gone Up Since Recommendations Started Advising Against PSA Test
Support from Family During Health Challenges
Roker says that the support from family and friends was so meaningful and important during this recent medical challenge, following his cancer battle. Having a strong community around you to support you through healthcare challenges like this one can make a world of difference.
In an earlier interview, ovarian cancer survivor Beverly Reeves stresses how critical it is to have a supportive, loving community guiding you during your cancer battle.
Reeves tells SurvivorNet, “f I had one piece of advice for someone who had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it would be to get a strong support group together. Get your close friends. If you’re connected to a faith community, get your faith community.”
“Get your family,” says Reeves. “Let them know what’s going on and let them help you. And sometimes that’s the most difficult thing to do, but just know that they are there. If they love you, they’re there to help you. And don’t be embarrassed.”
She continues, “Because this is a cancer that not a lot of people want to talk about. But it’s real and we need to talk about it, and we do need that help. So talk to your family and your friends and your faith community, and get that network together so they can support you and be there for you.”
‘Faith, Family, and Friends’ Helped Beverly Reeves Get Through Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Screening for Prostate Cancer
Roker has been an advocate for screening for this disease, stressing the need for men to get prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. PSA tests are the screening method used to screen for prostate cancer. These tests look for PSA in the bloodstream, which could indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
People who have a family history of prostate cancer – or other cancers – should begin screening for prostate cancer earlier than the average person. The current recommendation is to begin screening at age 50 if you have an average risk of prostate cancer.
Urologic oncologist at Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Edwin Posadas, says it’s important to notify your doctor about your risk factor, such as having a family history of prostate cancer. He tells SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “We know as doctors that there are certain men who are at high risk for having prostate cancer. Men of African descent, for example, fall immediately into a high-risk category.”
Dr. Posadas continues, “Men whose fathers or brothers had prostate cancer are at two to three times the risk of the general man living in America of having prostate cancer. Those pieces of information are critical to bring forward in an examination when you’re seeing your doctor.”
People at a high risk of developing prostate cancer should start screening at age 40 or 45, depending upon your specific circumstances. Speak with your doctor about what’s best for you, and advocate for your health – lead each doctor’s appointment with a plan.
When Should I Get Tested for Prostate Cancer?
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