Alex Trebek on Pancreatic Cancer Awareness
November 16, 2019
Longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek recently released a PSA (public service announcement) on pancreatic cancer awareness. After being diagnosed with the disease this past March, Trebek said he wished he had known the signs and symptoms of the cancer sooner. The TV host paired up with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, or WPCC, to create the public service announcement promoting the importance of pancreatic cancer awareness.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. In fact, it is the only major cancer that has a five-year survival rate in the single digits. Pancreatic cancer happens when abnormal cells grow out of control (and turn into a malignant tumor) in the pancreas, which is a gland located in between the spine and stomach. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) more than 56,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, or roughly 150 people each day.
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
In the public service announcement Trebek, who was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, says he wishes he had known that some of the symptoms he was experiencing were indicative of the disease. Some classic symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:
- Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss,
- Persistent stomach pain,
- Changes in the stool,
- Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas),
- Mid-back pain,
- Fatigue, weakness, and/or depression,
- New onset diabetes, and:
- Jaundice, or the yellowing of the eyes and/or skin
Certain people may be more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than others. Some known risk factors include two or more first-degree relatives who have had pancreatic cancer, or a first-degree relative who developed pancreatic cancer before turning 50. First-degree relatives are any siblings, parents, or children. Other recognized risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Diets high in processed and/or red meats,
- Long-standing diabetes,
- Being over the age of 60,
- Race: African-American or Ashkenazi Jew, and:
- Chronic and/or hereditary pancreatitis
Men are also slightly more likely than woman to develop pancreatic cancer. People who face higher risks for developing pancreatic cancer should speak with a genetic counselor about how – and when – to make an appointment.
Join Trebek and Wear Purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day
Alex Trebek knows how important it is to get diagnosed early. Sadly, because of a lack of knowledge, many people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer too late. To raise awareness, Trebek is asking his fans to join him in wearing purple next month on November 21st in observance of World Pancreatic Cancer Day.
World Pancreatic Cancer Day advocates for “early detection and better outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients” says Julie Fleshman, chair of the WPCC. Early detection is the most promising way to give patients with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance against the deadly disease.
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