Alex Trebek has appeared in a public service announcement to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer.
In March, the 79-year-old longtime host of Jeopardy!, revealed he had stage 4 of the disease, and that the prognosis was ‘not very encouraging’.
In a video posted to the World Pancreatic Cancer Day YouTube page on Wednesday, Trebek talks about the symptoms he dealt with.
Pancreatic cancer is notoriously lethal because its signs are vague, and rarely appear until late stages when the cancer has spread far, making it harder to treat.
‘I wished I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,’ Trebek says in the clip.
‘Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.’
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, 79, appeared in a PSA posted to the World Pancreatic Cancer Day YouTube page on Wednesday,
In the clip, Trebek (left and right) discussed the signs and symptoms of the disease and said he ‘wished he had known sooner’. He asked viewers to wear purple in November and spread awareness on social media
Trebek says he decided to join forces with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to make the PSA because ‘more attention and awareness are needed’ to help patients ‘fight and survive this disease.’
He asked viewers ‘to join me in this fight’ by wearing purple in November and ‘spreading the word on social media’.
He ends by saying: ”Together, we can get it done.’
Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system.
It typically doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages. Sufferers tend to develop signs, such as back pain and jaundice, when it has spread to other organs.
According to the American Cancer Society, around 56,000 will be diagnosed in the US in 2019, and around 45,000 will die from it.
Less than seven percent of patients survive five years, which means pancreatic cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all common cancers.
Trebek revealed in a video message posted on the YouTube page of Jeopardy! on March 6 of his diagnosis.
‘I…wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health,’ he told fans.
Trebek revealed he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in a video message posted to YouTube in March 2019. Pictured: Trebek holds the award for outstanding game show host at the Daytime Emmy Awards in April 2006
He was reported to be near remission, but had to start a second round of chemotherapy when his tumors came back Pictured: Trebek at Daytime Emmy Awards in April 2017
‘Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.
‘And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.
‘Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!
‘So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you.’
After news this past spring that his tumors had shrunk in half and that he was near remission, Trebek told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ that he was undergoing chemotherapy again.
‘There are moments when, for no reason at all, I feel this surge of sadness, depression,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t last for very long, but it takes over your whole being for a period of time.’
He added that he has developed mouth sores that make it hard to enunciate and that, in the future, he may need to stop hosting Jeopardy! as a result.
WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of the disease. Around 95 percent of people who contract it die from it.
Joan Crawford, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti all died of pancreatic cancer.
It is the fourth-leading killer in the United States. Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, and 50,000 in the US.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
It is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas – a large gland in the digestive system.
WHO HAS THE HIGHEST RISK?
Most cases (90 percent) are in people over the age of 55. Around half of all new cases occur in people aged 75 or older. One in 10 cases are attributed to genetics.
Other causes include age, smoking and other health conditions, including diabetes. About 80 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have some form of diabetes.
WHY IS IT SO LETHAL?
There is no screening method for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer typically does not show symptoms in the early stages, when it would be more manageable.
Sufferers tend to start developing the tell-tale signs – jaundice and abdominal pain – around stage 3 or 4, when it has likely already spread to other organs.
WHAT ARE THE SURVIVAL RATES?
For all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year survival rate is 20 percent. At five years, that rate falls to just nine percent.
If the cancer is caught in stage 1A, the five year survival rates is about 14 percent and 12 percent for 1B.
At stage 2, those rates are seven and five percent, respectively. For a pancreatic cancer in its third stage, only three percent of people will survive another five years.
By stage IV, the five-year survival rate falls to just one percent.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
The only effective treatment is removal of the pancreas. This proves largely ineffective for those whose cancer has spread to other organs. In those cases, palliative care is advised to ease their pain at the end of their life.