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Alex Trebek: What are pancreatic cancer symptoms and survival rate?

JEOPARDY! Host Alex Trebek Announces Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis. Pic credit: NBC Nightly News/YouTube

Beloved JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek recently announced that he is battling stage four pancreatic cancer. Many fans were surprised and upset to hear this news, but are keeping Trebek in their thoughts.

Trebek seems confident that with the help of his family and friends, he can make it through recovery.

The heavy announcement

Many fans were teary-eyed upon hearing that Alex Trebek is facing a very serious illness. Through their tears, fans were astounded by Trebek’s composure during his announcement.

Even in the face of a life-changing illness, Trebek kept his familiar composure and his subtle humor.

We’re hoping the JEOPARDY! host has more than three years left, but not necessarily for the sake of his contract.

Trebek is a very familiar face. Having hosted over 8,000 episodes of JEOPARDY!, he could almost be considered a household name. His calming voice and presence on the show have always been a fan favorite.

With Trebek’s announcement, many people have a lot of questions about pancreatic cancer. What are the symptoms and risk factors? And how likely is survival?

Risk factors and symptoms of pancreatic cancer

The American Cancer Society says that on average, about 56,770 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer per year in the United States. Out of those 56,770, it is estimated that approximately 45,750 people will die from pancreatic cancer.

When it comes to pancreatic cancer, there are several different risk factors involved. Some are factors that we have control over and can change, some are genetic and can’t be changed at all.

Some factors are unclear — there’s potential that these factors could increase your risk of pancreatic cancer, but there isn’t enough research for a definite answer.

Habits that will increase your risk of pancreatic cancer include tobacco use, workplace exposure to specific chemicals, and being overweight. These are things that can generally be changed in order to avoid the risk.

Genetics play a large role in your likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer. Age, gender, family history, and inherited genetic syndromes are things that unfortunately cannot be changed when it comes to your risk of cancer.

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice, abdominal or back pain, poor appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and blood clots. The American Cancer Society notes that in very rare cases, pancreatic cancer can cause diabetes as well.

Survival rates of pancreatic cancer

Survival rates are determined by the percentage of people still alive for five years after their diagnosis. Survival rates are estimates from previous data and can’t always be used to determine any one person’s case.

The American Cancer Society uses information from the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database maintained by the National Cancer Institute. They narrow down cancer types into three groups:

  • Localized, meaning cancer hasn’t spread outside of the pancreas.
  • Regional, meaning cancer has spread to nearby areas.
  • Distant, meaning cancer has spread to farther parts of the body, such as the lungs. This group includes stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The localized cancer survival rate is an estimated 34%. The distant cancer survival rate is estimated at 3%.

Although the numbers are troubling, the American Cancer Society reminds us that the numbers only apply for the stage cancer was diagnosed. The numbers don’t take age and health into account, and these are based on results and treatments from at least five years ago.

We aren’t letting these statistics get us down, and neither is Alex Trebek. The host is looking to get at least another three years out of his life, and he has the support of his fans and family to get him there.


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