Doctor discusses pancreatic cancer in light of Alex Trebek’s cancer announcement

Posted: Updated:

The devastating news that beloved “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek has pancreatic cancer has brought the disease to the spotlight.

The 78-year-old took to YouTube Wednesday to announce that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Sushil Bhardwaj is the medical director of the Bobbi Lewis Cancer program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

He is not treating Trebek, but says pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed late because symptoms aren't obvious. Because of that, he says, long-term survival rates are low.

"I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth be told, I have to because under the terms of my contract I have to host 'Jeopardy' for three more years,” said Trebek.

Bhardwaj says about 56,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. He says, at the time of diagnosis, the cancer has spread in 70 to 80 percent of those cases.

"The success of modern chemotherapy in the year 2019 is that we now have treatments that do prolong survival in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer stage 4 where it spreads to other organs,” he says.

He says treatment includes chemotherapy and possibly radiation.

"We do have patients who do respond and live past the first and second year, but they are few and far between, so I hope Mr. Trebek is one of them,” he says.

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