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Trebek faces uphill battle in fight against pancreatic cancer

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - When Jeopardy Host Alex Trebek announced he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he promised he would beat the disease.

“Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working,” Trebek said during his online announcement.

But he is facing a long road.

Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and could become the 2nd.

“It has the lowest survival rate of all the cancers at 9 percent,” said Holly Ignatowski from the Milwaukee Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Ignatowski says that the vast majority of people who are diagnosed, don’t make it past the first year.

“About 56,000 will be diagnosed this year, about 45,000 with die usually within the first year,” said Ignatowski.

One of the reasons is that there are very few warning early warning signs for the disease.

“The majority of patients are diagnosed in stage 4 because that’s when symptoms tend to show up, not always but quite often they do,” said Ignatowski.

But Ignatowski says the fatality rate is dropping, and there are better treatments and research being done.

“I definitely am hoping, and hopeful that it will change in my lifetime because of the progress that we have seen,” said Ignatowski.

Trebek remains hopeful as well.

“Keep the faith and we’ll win, we’ll get it done,” said Trebek.

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