BOSTON (CBS) — “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announced Wednesday that he is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 

The 78-year-old Trebek, who has hosted the popular quiz show since 1984, vowed to keep working and said “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”

WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall sat down with David Wade and Lisa Hughes to answer questions about this deadly cancer.

What Is The Pancreas?

It’s an organ that sits behind the stomach. It produces hormones and it produces juices that help break down food, so it’s an important organ in the body.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer?

When you develop a tumor in the pancreas it can cause symptoms, things like jaundice, it might cause back pain because it’s located toward the back of the body. It might cause belly pain, fatigue, depression.

But here’s the unfortunate part: Because of where it’s located, tumors can grow pretty large before they actually cause any symptoms. So by the time someone develops back pain or starts to lose weight, often times it’s caught at a late stage.

Now there are treatments available. There’s chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and some sort of newer immune therapies that can be used.

What Is The Prognosis For Patients With Pancreatic Cancer?

It’s generally not good. And he mentioned stage 4, which means it’s pretty advanced, so the prognosis is not good. The last numbers I saw, about 20 percent of people survived one year after diagnosis, only about 7 percent of people are still alive after five years.

But you heard him. He’s going to fight it, he’s tough, he’s got support and he’s going at it whole hog. And people have beaten it. And they certainly have had longer survivals than even their doctors may have told them.

And you do hear some rare cases of people who lived years with it. So let’s give him a chance.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

Comments (17)
  1. My doctor told me that if your diagnosed with pancreatic cancer sell everything you own and move to Hawaii and live on the beach. Not in a month, now! You are doomed and you might as well live out your days watching beautiful sunsets. Just sayin

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