“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died on Sunday more than a year after he announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer
The cause of his death was not immediately announced. Trebek revealed in March 2019 he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, triggering an outpouring of support.
Earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, and US Rep. John Lewis died months after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
In all, pancreatic cancer was the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States in 2018, after lung and colorectal cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.
This year, an estimated 56,770 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed and an estimated 45,750 deaths from pancreatic cancer will occur across the nation, according to the American Cancer Society.
About 95% of people with pancreatic cancer die from it, experts say. It’s so lethal because during the early stages, when the tumor would be most treatable, there are usually no symptoms. It tends to be discovered at advanced stages when abdominal pain or jaundice may result. Presently, there are no general screening tools.
As people age, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer goes up. Most patients are older than 45, and nearly 90% are older than 55. The average age at diagnosis is 71.
Men have a slightly higher likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer than women, which may partly result from increased tobacco use in men. In the past, when men more commonly smoked than women, the gender gap was wider. Currently, the lifetime risk of developing it is about 1 in 63 for men and 1 in 65 for women.
There is also a noted association with race: African-Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites. Doctors don’t know why but speculate that higher rates of men smoking and having diabetes, and women being overweight, may contribute to that association.
Medical reference: Medical News Today