Alex Trebek said his fight against pancreatic cancer is going so well, the results are “kind of mind-boggling.”
The 78-year-old host of Jeopardy! told People magazine that he has been responding well to chemotherapy, which he has been undergoing since he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March. Trebek said that according to his doctors, he’s in “near remission," but said he still faces several more rounds of chemotherapy.
“The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory,” Trebek told the magazine. “Some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent.”
In March, Trebek announced his cancer diagnosis in a video posted to social media. Since then, he finished filming Jeopardy!'s 35th season while undergoing chemo sessions, which the longtime host admitted leave him feeling “weak.”
“Chemo effects people in different ways, and people have to understand that,” Trebek said during an interview on Good Morning America earlier this month. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I’m really depressed today and I have no idea why. Why am I crying today?’"
Pancreatic cancer is the third-most-fatal cancer in the United States, and is on track to become No. 2 as early as next year, according to the American Cancer Society. Pancreatic cancer remains difficult to detect and treat, and the five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with stage 4 is just 3 percent, with only one in four patients surviving beyond a year.
Trebek himself has said that “the prognosis for this is not very encouraging.” But despite that, the host has said he’s managing the ups-and-downs and remains optimistic he’ll be back for the next season of Jeopardy!, which is hugely popular in Philadelphia.
“Hopefully everything is going to turn out well and I’ll be back on the air with original programming come this September,” Trebek said.
As far as the show itself, reigning Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer keeps on racking up wins. On Tuesday night, Holzhauer won his 29th straight game, bringing his cash winnings up to $2,254,938. That’s less than $300,000 shy of the $2,520,700 Ken Jennings took home during his 74-game win streak in 2004. Lancaster native Brad Rutter (who played when the rules limited win streaks to five games) is still Jeopardy!’s all-time money winner with nearly $4.7 million, thanks to tournament winnings.
“Who needs Powerball? All you need is 28 days on Jeopardy!” Trebek joked to open Tuesday night’s show.
Few challengers have managed to keep the games close against Holzhauer, who won Tuesday night by more than $42,000. On April 29, Brandeis University athletics spokesperson and Philadelphia native Adam Levin came the closest, losing to Holzhauer by just $18. According to Andy Saunders, who runs the website Jeopardy Fan, Levin’s $53,999 was the “highest-ever regular-play non-winning score in the history of the show.” But Levin still only received the $2,000 runner-up award.