Al Roker, local medical experts hope prostate cancer diagnosis encourages men to get screened

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A popular tv personality hopes his prostate cancer diagnoses serves as a wake-call for other men—especially African Americans—to get screened.

Long-time NBC Today Show weatherman Al Roker made the announcement Friday morning.

In announcing he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer, 66-year-old Roker said in part, “It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing. 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.”

Dr. Daniel Vaena is director of the urinary program at West Cancer Center in Germantown. He says it’s unknown exactly why African Americans are more pre-disposed for prostate cancer.

“The most established risk factors are family history, not only of prostate cancer but of some other cancers like breast and ovarian cancers in the family,” Vaena said.

He stresses in general there are warning signs men should look out for.

“Definitely if there’s symptoms in the urine, difficulty with urinary flow, pain with urination, blood in the urine, all these things should prompt men to seek a doctor immediately and be evaluated,” Vaena said.

Most prostate cancers are first found as a result of screening through a PSA blood test. But Vaena says men should put their fears to rest and talk to a medical professional if they have concerns.

“The best approach actually is to discuss with your own doctor, discuss with your own primary care provider, typically if the test should be done or not,” Vaena said. “The test should not be done for everybody. There’s criteria for whom the test should be used.”

The American Cancer Society says African-American men should talk to their doctors about screening at age 40.

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