Alex Trebek is best known for hosting the popular TV game show “Jeopardy!” for the past 35 years. But with his announcement this past week that he has Stage IV pancreatic cancer, Trebek can do a world of good by becoming the face of a disease that has the highest mortality rate of all cancers.

Trebek told his viewers that he’s determined to beat the odds. The grim statistics indicate this will be quite a challenge.

The National Cancer Institute reports that only 9 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are still living five years after their diagnosis. An oncologist told The Washington Post that up to 50 percent die within a year of diagnosis.

The disease is now the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, having overtaken breast cancer in 2016. It is expected to move into second place by 2020, overtaking colon cancer.

Pancreatic cancer researchers and patients are bound to have an outstanding advocate in Trebek.

Trebek’s friends spoke optimistically about the bad news, saying they believe he can beat this disease. Hopefully they are right. But if his greatest contribution is as a spokesman for those with pancreatic cancer, he will be performing a valuable public service.

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