The cancer with a "bad reputation"
“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s announcement that he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer has put a much-needed spotlight on the disease this week. Pancreatic cancer has a “bad reputation,” as this New York Times article states, because it is often caught very late. Thankfully, a lot of work is being done to find ways to detect pancreatic cancer early.
As a BRCA2 mutation carrier with a family history of pancreatic cancer, I participate in the Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Once a year, for the past two years, I have gone to UTSW for an MRI to check for signs of a precancerous change or early cancer in the pancreas. (So far, so good.) I’m grateful to be able to participate in this important program that hopefully will help change the grim statistics, which say that about 56,770 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 45,750 people will die of the disease this year (American Cancer Society).
Alex Trebek made an inspiring statement about beating the statistics and fulfilling his contractual obligation to host the show for three more years. Here’s hoping the best possible outcome for Trebek and that prevention programs like UTSW’s can improve outcomes for everyone facing pancreatic cancer.