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Alex Trebek, “Jeopardy!”

; host, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

USA TODAY

According to the American Cancer Society, about 47,050 people will die this year from pancreatic cancer, and among them is Alex Trebek, the beloved “Jeopardy!” organization.

Trebek, 80, died Sunday, about 20 months after he announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer – twice as long as the average patient’s survival time after diagnosis, according to Hirshberg’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation.

Since July, civil rights icon John Lewis and US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have also died of pancreatic cancer, one of the most dangerous forms of cancer.

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According to the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), less than 10 percent of people live 5 years after being diagnosed.

Why is the survival rate so low?

The lack of cost effective screening that can reliably detect cancer for asymptomatic people makes it difficult to diagnose.

As a result, most cases are diagnosed at an end stage – usually Stage 4, when the cancer has spread to other parents of the body. In December, Congressman John Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with grade 4 pancreatic cancer. In contrast, Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, which was discovered during a routine health checkup.

Ginsburg’s cancer was discovered during a routine check-up and after surgery to treat her, she has lived for more than a decade – a rarity among people with pancreatic cancer.

Most people diagnosed with cancer are not candidates for surgery because the cancer has spread – spread outside the pancreas to other parts of the body. And although treatments are available, pancreatic cancer is largely considered incurable.

According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64 people. The ACS reports that opportunities affected by specific risk factors can be controlled such as:

Smokers are twice as likely to get the disease.

People who are “overweight” have a 20% higher risk of the disease.

Diabetes, especially type 2, increases your risk.

Chronic inflammation of the pancreas, often associated with smoking and heavy alcohol use, increases the risk of disease.

Other factors include age (at least two-thirds of patients aged 65 and over), sex (slightly higher men with the condition), race (Blacks are at risk. slightly taller than whites) and genetic mutation (seen in 10% of cases).

What are the symptoms?

Before being diagnosed, Trebek said, he experienced persistent stomach pains and John Hopkins Medicine reports that dull pain in the upper abdomen or upper back is common.

“This could be because a tumor has formed in the body or the tail of the pancreas because it could press on the spine,” says Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Some patients describe the pain that starts in the middle abdomen and spreads to the back. Pain can get worse while lying down and can usually be alleviated by leaning forward. Pain from pancreatic cancer can vary from person to person … ”

Symptoms can include jaundice, pain, and weight loss.

Pancreatic cancer research

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an “orphan drug designation” for a new generation of antibody therapy designed to treat adenocarcinoma. pancreas and other types of cancer. “Orphan drug designation” means a special condition for a drug or biological product, a rare illness or condition required by a sponsor, according to the FDA.

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“The designation of eligible orphan drugs to sponsors for various developmental incentives, including tax credits for qualified clinical trials, up to seven years of marketing monopoly for only orphans and certain FDA fees waived, ” Apexigen, Inc., the research development firm, said in a statement.

The use of immunotherapy, artificial stimulation of the immune system, is also being explored as a treatment.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

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