LOS ANGELES -- Alex Trebek, the longtime host of "Jeopardy," announced Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
"Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this and I'm going to keep working," Trebek said in a video message released on "Jeopardy" social media accounts. "I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."
"Help me keep the faith and we'll win. We'll get it done," he added.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in America, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, afflicting an estimated 50,000 Americans each year. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The stage 4 designation indicates that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Trebek, 78, underwent surgery to remove blood clots on his brain in December 2017 but resumed taping new episodes of "Jeopardy" the next month. He said at the time that he had been diagnosed with subdural hematoma attributed to a fall he suffered earlier in the year.
Trebek has served as the face of the game show since it made its debut in daytime syndication in 1984. With nearly 8,000 episodes under his belt, he holds the Guinness World Record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter.
The only time somebody other than Trebek has hosted an episode of this iteration of "Jeopardy" was when Trebek and "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak swapped shows for an April Fool's prank, according to the Associated Press.
"Jeopardy," seen by an estimated 24 million viewers each week, has been renewed through the 2022-2023 season with Trebek under contract through the 2021-2022 season. He said in a July 2018 interview before his most recent contract renewal that he could imagine a life after "Jeopardy" but would continue hosting the show "if I'm still enjoying it and if I'm not making too many mistakes."
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored Trebek with a lifetime achievement award as well as five Daytime Emmy awards for Outstanding Game Show Host. He won a Peabody Award in 2011 and has been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
A native of Greater Sudbury, Canada, Trebek began his career as a television and radio newscaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He made his debut on the air in America in 1973.
Full text of Alex Trebek's statement:
"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. I also wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health. So, therefore, I wanted to be the one to pass along this information.
"Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 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 of 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'll win. We'll get it done. Thank you."
VIDEO: Trebek talks 'Jeopardy' in 2007 interview