Earlier today cultural icon and host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek, announced that he has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Joshua Ellenhorn, a pancreatic surgeon at the Surgery Group of Los Angeles, says that Trebek’s prognosis is not good, and likely fatal.
“Pancreatic cancer is an incredibly aggressive disease”, said Dr. Ellenhorn, “Over the past four decades, there have been numerous advances in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.”
Despite these advances, there have only been, “modest improvements in lengthening survival. The overall long-term survival of pancreatic cancer, once it has metastasized has not changed over the past 50 years. Metastatic pancreatic cancer or stage 4 pancreatic cancer remains a uniformly fatal diagnosis.”
Unfortunately, there is no test available that can predictably diagnose pancreatic cancer at an early stage, “Even when diagnosed at an early stage, pancreatic cancer is ultimately Fatal in the majority of patients.”
Trebek joins several other celebrities who have diagnosed with the condition. Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Landon, and Steve Jobs were diagnosed with forms of pancreatic cancers as well.
It is unclear what type of pancreatic cancer Mr. Trebek has. Dr. Ellenhorn notes that “There are two main types of pancreatic cancer. The first type is very aggressive and includes the majority of patients including Luciano Pavarotti and Michael Landon. That is ductile add no carcinoma of the pancreas commonly referred to as pancreatic cancer.”
The second type of pancreatic cancer “is a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas which is the type Steve Jobs had. Less aggressive and slower growing.”