One day after singer Lizzo declared that she’d “made it” after being an answer on Jeopardy!, the show’s longtime host Alex Trebek, 79, has launched a new public service announcement to help raise awareness for pancreatic cancer — a disease he was diagnosed with last March.
For the PSA, Trebek (who also made headlines this week when he called a fan with autism who wanted to wish him well) partnered with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to announce the upcoming World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which will be Nov. 21. In the PSA, Trebek points out that cancer still only has an abysmal single-digit, five-year survival rate (2-9%) in most countries. He’s joined 80 organizations from 30 countries to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms.
“I wished I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced before my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek says in the announcement, adding that other common symptoms include “mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”
According to the organization’s release, the reason it has the lowest survival rate among all major cancers is because so few people know the risks and symptoms, and are thus diagnosed at an advanced stage. Each day, more than 1,284 people worldwide die from the disease, and better progress starts with early detection — the problem is, many of the symptoms can be vague and incorrectly attributed to less serious conditions.
According to the organization, because there is still no screening test for pancreatic cancer, if you are experiencing one or more of the above persistent symptoms that Trebek mentions, you should absolutely mention pancreatic cancer to your healthcare provider, because “patients diagnosed at an earlier stage when surgery is an option are more likely to live five years and beyond.”
“On World Pancreatic Cancer Day, we unite as a global movement to advocate for early detection and better outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, WPCC chair. “By raising awareness of pancreatic cancer risks and symptoms, we hope that people will be aware and alert their doctor sooner when there is more opportunity for intervention.”
Trebek and WPCD ask that the world join him in raising awareness by wearing purple this November 21, and sharing the hashtag #WPCD on social media, or tagging @worldpancreticcancerday that day on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also ask your public health officials to support more government funding for pancreatic cancer research.
“Together, we can get it done,” says Trebek.
Go to worldpancreaticcancerday.org for more information, useful resources and links to pancreatic cancer organizations in your country/region.