Alex Trebek's Death Raises Pancreatic Cancer AwarenessNov 19, 2020
Like 50,000 other Americans each year, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2019.
While pancreatic cancer is not one of the most common cancers, it is the third highest cause of cancer related deaths in the United States with incidence and mortality rates that are almost the same, meaning almost everyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer dies from it. Even more troubling is the prediction that by 2030 pancreatic cancer will have risen to the number two cause of cancer related deaths around the world.
Alexis Leal, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Medical Oncology credits Trebeks willingness to share the ups and downs of his treatment and symptoms as the inspiration for other pancreatic cancer patients around the world. In sharing his experiences he helped others to feel less alone in their fight against this disease.
“Patients that I have had with pancreas cancer have really looked to Alex and what he was going through. He’s really been a source of hope for them because he continued to work and he remained in the public eye. I think a lot of patients saw that as very hopeful as they were going through their own journey. It’s great that he had a job that he loved and he was able to continue to work and was very public with his journey" says Dr. Leal.
Dr. Leal also says that Trebek's openness about his treatment has also helped to make patients more aware and open to clinical trials like the ones he was part of during his battle with the disease. There are many such trials going on for pancreatic cancer patients at the CU Cancer Center, including studies on medicines to better treat the disease.