Death of revered game show host, Alex Trebek, brings attention to pancreatic cancer

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 5:22 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Alex Trebek will forever be linked to “Jeopardy!” the popular game show of answers and questions.

Now, his death Sunday at the age of 80 is drawing attention to the unanswered questions surrounding pancreatic cancer.

“There’s no symptoms in the early stages of pancreas cancer, just at the later stages there’s some non-specific symptoms such as weight-loss, lack of appetite, sometimes jaundice and that’s why it’s really difficult to detect,” Angela Quick, Prevea Health Cancer Center at HSHS director says.

Risk factors can include smoking, diabetes as well as family history.

Surpassing breast cancer, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society.

Danielle Dahlburg, Marshfield Clinic Oncology NP, says advancing medical technology for screening cancers is important.

“Marshfield Clinic has developed a high-risk screening that is available for people who have a high family history or have a genetic mutation that puts them at a risk of a genetic syndrome,” Dahlburg says.

She says the clinic is in early stages of closely monitoring patients in hopes that early screening will lead to early detection.

“Pancreatic cancer is one of those cancers that if caught early are much more treatable, however because of the location of the pancreas many people won’t have any symptoms until it’s further advanced than we’d like to see,” Dahlburg says.

Many of the cancers risk factors are beyond control, but eating healthy and regular exercise are recommended.

Though covid has been a concern keeping people from their routine check-ups, early prevention is key.

“We don’t want to have people delay any care that could have added, you know, years to their life,” Quick says.

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