'A silent killer': Here are a few telling signs of pancreatic cancer

Monday, November 9, 2020
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As the world says farewell to America's favorite game show host, Alex Trebek, Houstonians remember their special connection to the "Jeopardy!" legend, who died at age 80 after battling with pancreatic cancer.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston community, along with the world, is reacting to the loss of beloved "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.

Houston's Doug Miller was a contestant on "Jeopardy!" in the 1980s. He spoke with ABC13 after hearing the news of Trebek's death on Sunday.

"I was the first Houstonian to appear on "Jeopardy!" with Alex Trebek," Miller said. "When I walked out there on the set, I thought, 'I just secured my place in American television.' And to stand there with him felt like I was standing next to an incredible professional. The man who just knew how to make everything work out. The main thing I remember about him was that he was smooth, he was suave, he was debonair."

SEE ALSO: 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek dies at 80 after pancreatic cancer diagnosis

The game show host celebrated 36 years with "America's favorite quiz show" in September and released his memoir, "The Answer Is ...: Reflections on My Life," in July.

Trebek was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer over a year and a half ago. He shared his diagnosis and planned treatment options publicly with the community.

Despite his medical battle, Trebek's last day in the studio was Oct. 29. He passed away while at home on Sunday morning, according to a release.

SEE ALSO: ABC13 staff shares stories of 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek

Dr. Curtis Wray, a surgical oncologist with UT Physicians and UTHealth, said pancreatic cancer is often aggressive and shows few symptoms.

"It's the fourth leading cause of cancer death in this country and five-year survival rate remains very low despite multi-modality treatments," Dr. Wray said.

He said currently there are not true established guidelines on who should undergo screenings when it comes to pancreatic cancer, unlike breast cancer.

SEE ALSO: Alex Trebek's cancer diagnosis prompts outpouring of support

"If you have unexplained symptoms, constant abdominal pain or weight loss, unintended weight loss, new onset problems with your glucose and insulin management, those might be symptoms for one to think about pancreas cancer. Getting in to see a primary care physician earlier is always helpful," Wray said. "Too many of us don't see their physician on a regular basis, and obviously with the COVID-19 pandemic, that's made routine medical care a lot more challenging over the last 10 months."

Claudia Perry, who formerly worked at the Houston Post and would later become a four-time contestant on the show, said she hopes this will bring more awareness and other lives can be saved through prevention, awareness and more research.

"It's just incredibly sad. It's going to take a while to process because every day in your home, there he is," Perry said. "You know cancer is no joke, and particularly pancreatic cancer being something that can really sneak up on you. I just hope and pray that anyone who remotely thinks they feel bad should go and get themselves checked out because it's really a silent killer."

"Jeopardy!" says you will continue to see episodes hosted by Trebek through Christmas Day. The show has not announced plans for a new host yet.

"They'll find somebody else, but it will never be the same," Miller said.

For more information on pancreatic cancer and treatment options, visit PanCAN.org.

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