News that longtime quizmaster Alex Trebek is battling pancreatic cancer has shocked the world.
"You're never prepared for an announcement like that," said Rick Terpstra of Havertown, who was last on the show in September of 2018.
"That was pretty shocking to realize as I processed the news the last couple of hours, that yes he probably had it then, and didn't know," said Terpstra.
Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate, with more than 90 percent of patients dying within 5 years of diagnosis.
Dr. Igor Astsaturov at Fox Chase Cancer Center says unlike other cancers, there's no way to screen for early detection.
"For colon cancer or breast, we have mammograms, colonoscopies, but we don't have any endoscopic techniques or imaging studies that would detect pancreatic cancer at early stages," said Astsaturov.
Anne Marie Hughes beat pancreatic cancer twice.
"Mine was found, totally incidental. I went in for a problem on my lower left stomach, they found in a cat scan the tumor," said Hughes. "If we have more money to fund research for early detection and cure, we can beat the survival rate which right now stands at five years."
But for those like Terpstra, the news is tough to swallow.
"I'm still in contact with dozens if not hundreds of former contestants and we've all been sharing anecdotes and stories and every one of us says receiving news like this is like receiving news about a distant relative. We all sort of jokingly call him 'Uncle Alex' and this is hash been really tough for all of us to process," he said.
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