Alex Trebek wishes he knew the signs of pancreatic cancer before his diagnosis. Now, he’s working to raise awareness so other people know what to look for.
The “Jeopardy!” host was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March and now he’s joining forces with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to share a new public service announcement.
In the video, Trebek, 79, explains that pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits in nearly every country. “More attention and awareness are needed” to help more people survive the disease, he said.
“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate because a lack of knowledge means people are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, according to WPCC. Every day, more than 1,200 people worldwide will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and an estimated 1,180 die from the disease.
Trebek asked his fans to join him in wearing purple next month to spread the word about World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which is on November 21. The day aims to educate people about the symptoms and risks of the disease so that more people can detect it early.
The cause of most pancreatic cancer cases is unknown, but there is evidence that smoking, being overweight, a family history of pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis could increase risk of developing the disease, WPCC said. Since there are no screening tests for the disease, it is imperative that anyone experiencing persistent symptoms take a proactive approach and see a healthcare provider.
“On World Pancreatic Cancer Day, we unite as a global movement to advocate for early detection and better outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, WPCC chair. “By raising awareness of pancreatic cancer risks and symptoms, we hope that people will be aware and alert their doctor sooner when there is more opportunity for intervention.”
In September, Trebek returned to the “Jeopardy!” stage to kick off season 36 of the iconic game show after undergoing chemotherapy. But the following week, the host revealed he was returning to chemotherapy treatment after his “numbers went sky high.”
Trebek suggested in a recent interview that his tenure with “Jeopardy!” may be nearing an end as his battle with cancer continues. “I will keep doing it as long as my skills do not diminish, and they have started to diminish,” he told CTV.