A cancer patient holds the IV tubes during chemotherapy.
Cancer: The facts
01:00 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died on Sunday more than a year after he announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The cause of his death was not immediately announced. Trebek revealed in March 2019 he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, triggering an outpouring of support.

Earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, and US Rep. John Lewis died months after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

Pancreatic cancer was the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States in 2018, after lung and colorectal cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.

This year, an estimated 56,770 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed and an estimated 45,750 deaths from pancreatic cancer will occur across the nation, according to the American Cancer Society.

About 95% of people with pancreatic cancer die from it, experts say. It’s so lethal because during the early stages, when the tumor would be most treatable, there are usually no symptoms. It tends to be discovered at advanced stages when abdominal pain or jaundice may result. Presently, there are no general screening tools.

Men have a slightly higher likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer than women, which may partly result from increased tobacco use in men. In the past, when men more commonly smoked than women, the gender gap was wider. Currently, the lifetime risk of developing it is about 1 in 63 for men and 1 in 65 for women.

There is also a noted association with race: African-Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites. Doctors don’t know why but speculate that higher rates of men smoking and having diabetes, and women being overweight, may contribute to that association.

What are the types of pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an oblong organ that lies deep in the abdomen and is an integral part of both the digestive and endocrine system. It secretes hormones to regulate the body and digestive enzymes to break down food.

There are two types of pancreatic cancer: exocrine tumors and endocrine tumors.

Exocrine tumors are the majority of pancreatic cancers, and the most common form is called adenocarcinoma, w