This was the message the veteran broadcaster delivered to fans today (March 6) in a video posted online, along with a promise: “Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging. But I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working, 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-rates statistics for this disease.”
He added, wryly: “Truth told, I have to. Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years.”
The odds Alex Trebek is likely facing
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 57,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019. The prognosis, as Trebek acknowledges, is somewhat bleak: about 46,000 people nationwide will die of the disease this year, which accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US but about 7% of all cancer deaths. It is marginally more common among men, and made more likely by tobacco use and being overweight. On average, most people are diagnosed at 71. Trebek, who has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984, is 78.
Though the cancer is often fatal, treatment options are available. By stage IV, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pancreas. In these instances, doctors usually recommend some combination of chemotherapy and palliative treatment or surgery to manage pain.
Trebek concluded his message with characteristic good humor and grace.
“Keep the faith, and we’ll win,” he told fans. “We’ll get it done.”