Alex Trebek Has Died from Pancreatic Cancer

Alex Trebek, a beloved TV figure since the early 1970s, has died from pancreatic cancer.

Known for his stint at the helm of Jeopardy! since 1984, the 80-year-old native of Canada also hosted The Wizard of OddsDouble DareHigh RollersBattlestarsClassic Concentration, and To Tell the Truth during his career.

The show tweeted Sunday, “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.”

A game show icon, Trebek had been battling Stage IV pancreatic cancer since announcing the diagnosis in March 2019. “I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he said at the time. “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.”

He returned to work after completing chemotherapy as Jeopardy! launched Season 36 on Sept. 9, 2019.

Actress Holly Robinson tweeted, “More 2020 heartbreak. Rest in peace, Alex Trebek. One of my favorite moments in my career was coming on Celebrity Jeopardy. You were so lovely. You’ll be really missed.”

The pancreas aids digestion and helps regulate the metabolism of sugars. Pancreatic cancer often is detected late and spreads rapidly.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome, and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65

There are no symptoms in the early stages, and late-stage cancer has a poor prognosis. Later stages of pancreatic cancer may have non-specific symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue

Based on 2013-15 data, The National Cancer Institute projects approximately 1.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The number of new cases of pancreatic cancer is 12.6 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths is 10.9 per 100,000 men and women per year. (2)

In 2018, there were an estimated 44,330 deaths from pancreatic cancer, which accounted for 7.3% of all cancer deaths. The 5-year survival rate for the various pancreatic cancer stages range from 34.3% (Stage I) to 5.5% (Stage IV).

 

Citations:

(1) Pancreatic cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatic-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20355421

(2) National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic