“Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“Hi everyone, I have some news to share with all of you and it’s in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our ‘Jeopardy’ fan base — Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” Trebek, who’s been hosting the game show for 34 years, said in a video message released Wednesday.
The 78-year-old continued, “Now, normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working and with the love and support from my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host ‘Jeopardy’ for three more years, so help me. keep the faith and we will win. we will get it done. Thank you.”
He recently renewed his contact to host the show through the 2021-22 season.
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for those with pancreatic cancer is 9%, and in the early stages often the disease does not manifest in any signs or symptoms, so “by the time they do cause symptoms, they have often already spread outside the pancreas.”
The news comes just as the show finished airing its All-Star tournament with former contestants including Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
“I’ve said this before but Alex Trebek is in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual,” Jennings, who holds the longest “Jeopardy” winning streak, wrote on social media following Trebek’s cancer announcement.
Rutter, the highest-earning contestant of all time, responded, “Oh my God. If anyone can beat this, you can. Sending heartfelt good thoughts and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery. We love you, Uncle Alex!”
“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak also sent his well wishes, writing, “The Sajak family is deeply saddened to hear of Alex Trebek’s struggle with cancer. Our hearts go out to him and his family. But there is no one I know who is stronger and more determined, and I would never bet against him. We, and the entire country, are pulling for you, Alex.”
“If anyone can beat this it’s Alex. He has our full support as he tackles this challenge head-on,” Mike Hopkins, the chairman of Sony Pictures Television, the production company behind the show, said in a statement.
In 2018, Trebek took a leave of absence from the show when he underwent surgery for a subdural hematoma.
Trebek has two children, 29-year-old Matthew and 26-year-old Emily, with his wife Jean Currivan Trebek.