Understanding Pancreatic Cancer with Cook County Health

Kate Hedlin, Cook County Health
Updated 9/19/2019 7:59 AM

This week, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announced he will resume chemotherapy treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Mr. Trebek was first diagnosed in April 2019.

Because there is no established way to test or find pancreatic cancer early, it is often not found until the later stages, making it one of the deadliest types of cancer. Cook County Health would like to share some information about this serious disease to help people better understand it.


In 2019, more than 56,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, and more than 45,000 people in the U.S. will die from the disease. The five-year survival rate is nine percent.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose because there are no noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages and the signs and symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases. Regardless, someone experiencing any of the following symptoms should talk to their doctor:

• Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back

• Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss

• Depression

• New-onset diabetes

• Blood clots

• Fatigue

• Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

Individuals who are overweight, smoke and who have diabetes are at greater risk for diagnosis. Family history of pancreatic cancer can also be a factor.

Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your risk factors or if you are experiencing unexplained health issues. Make an appointment at Cook County Health by calling 312-864-0200.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.