The sobering news Alex Trebek announced last week that he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer was met with condolences and encouragement from everyone from Ryan Seacrest to the CIA. Trebek, who has hosted the popular game show Jeopardy! since 1984, vowed to fight the disease, and said he will keep working.

Alex Trebek
Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced last week that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, putting both his future with the show in doubt. (Image: Getty)

The announcement was made by Trebek on Jeopardy’s YouTube channel. The 78-year-old was shown in a short video clip stoically telling fans of his recent diagnosis.

“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United State each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” Trebek said. “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.”

Long Odds of Survival

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 57,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and more than 45,000 will die from the disease. The survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is grim. Just 3 percent of people with stage 4 pancreatic cancer will still be alive after five years.

There have been some advancements in fighting the disease, but it remains one of the least funded of cancer research, and advancements in treatments lag far behind other forms of the disease, such as breast and prostate cancer.

Still Trebek remains committed and even wryly joked that he couldn’t leave because he still has three years left on his contract.

Support for the Canadian was immediate. Television personality Bill O’Reilly posted on Twitter: “Tough to hear Alex Trebek is fighting cancer. Very good guy. TV icon no question. Prayers for Alex and his family.”

Replacement Talks Last Year

Before Trebek signed his contract extension there were talks of naming a possible replacement. The internet betting site BetDSI had listed successors on its website in August.

One of them was LA Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust. Trebek had mentioned him in an interview as someone he thought could host the show.

“I mentioned to our producer not so long ago that the fellow that does play-by-play for the Los Angeles Kings,” Trebek said. “They should consider him.”

Faust began as the 8/1 favorite, but Trebek said it was time for a woman to host the show, and said CNN legal analyst Laura Coates would be a great pick.

“There is an attorney, Laura Coates,” Trebek said. “She’s African-American and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time.”

Like Faust, Coates was flattered by Trebek’s words, and posted her gratitude on Twitter.

“Incredibly honored & humbled @Jeopardy Alex Trebek 1) knows who I am 2) thinks I’d be a great host of my fave game show ever that I grew up watching w/ my family & still watch w/ my own kids,” Coates wrote.

Coates became the favorite in October at MyBookie, going to 2/1. Faust dropped to second at 3/1.

Those bets though were taking off the sites after Trebek signed his contract extension. The only wager now is the host of Jeopardy! in 2021. Trebek is the longshot at 4/1, while anyone else is listed at 1/7.