What some people on the Today show will do to promote good health — and ratings: Matt Lauer and Al Roker underwent prostate exams on live TV today.
Cue the urological jokes and the funny faces. Yuck, yuck, indeed.
But it was all for a good cause and, let's face it, celebrities undergoing medical procedures in public can grab the attention of the medically clueless.
Plus, NBC is the network where former Today host Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy on the air in 2000 to focus attention on colon cancer, which had killed her husband two years before.
Her cheerful fearlessness spurred many to get tested themselves and probably saved scores of lives; health advocates are still calling it the Katie Effect. And it was great for ratings, too.
Now, with the Today show in a ratings slump, they'll be talking about the Matt and Al effect for prostate exams. The exams, performed by Lauer's doctor David Samadi behind an examining room door, took only about 35 seconds each, and both men came through the procedure fine. Roker's prostate was a little enlarged but nothing too terrible, Samadi told him.
The digital rectal exam is "not comfortable," Roker said. "But it's certainly, obviously do-able."
Get over the embarrassment factor, Lauer advised. "It doesn't hurt at all," he said. "Is it the best 34 seconds of your life? Probably not. But if in 34 seconds a (doctor) can detect something that might save your life, what are we talking about?"
Not everyone in the breakfast-munching viewing audience was impressed; TMI was a common theme in the reaction on Twitter. But former co-host Meredith Vieira was upbeat.
"Good luck today Matt and Al...two of my favorite pains in the butt! Hope it inspires guys everywhere to take care of their health," she tweeted.
But it's no joking matter for scores of American men, and especially African-American men. About one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime; it's one of the most common cancers in men, according to health authorities.
By the way, all of this is part of the Today show's No-Shave November; the guys are not shaving for the month to help raise awareness for men's health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer.