Alex Trebek, 78, who has hosted the Jeopardy! game show since 1984, announced Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. You can watch his announcement here.
In his blog, Len Lichtenfeld, MD, our interim chief medical officer, wrote: ". . . We are reminded of the strength and dignity those with cancer offer to others, every day."
He noted that "Mr. Trebek’s illness gives us the opportunity to reflect on the fact that there is much we need to learn about the early detection and treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. We do not have effective early detection tests that can be applied routinely for those who are not at exceptionally high risk of pancreatic cancer."
Dr. Len wrote: "The fact is, pancreatic cancer is a difficult disease to treat effectively. That is due in no small part to the fact that—as the case with Mr. Trebek—pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed at a later stage, remaining undetected until it causes difficulties and symptoms by its spread. The reality is that for most people pancreatic cancer is too advanced to be treated with surgery and is not very responsive to currently available chemotherapy and targeted therapy medications. And newer forms of treatment such as immunotherapy and CAR-T haven’t shown particular success at this point." Read his full blog post here.
In a video announcing his illness, the Jeopardy! host said, "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."
Pancreatic cancer makes up just 3 percent of cancers in the U.S., and accounts for 7 percent of deaths from cancer.
Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy!, tweeted that Trebek is "in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual."