Jerry Springer died from pancreatic cancer: What to know about symptoms, causes, more

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Jerry Springer, best known as host of his eponymous, controversial talk show, died at age 79 Thursday from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

"Jerry’s ability to connect with people was at the heart of his success in everything he tried," Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family said. "He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on."

According to the American Society of Cancer, about 50,550 people will die this year from the disease, which has also claimed the lives of Alex Trebek, Aretha Franklin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and more public figures.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the United States and about 7% of all cancer deaths, the American Society of Cancer reports. Here's what to know about the disease.

Jerry Springer, best known as host of his eponymous, controversial talk show, died at age 79 Thursday from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
Jerry Springer, best known as host of his eponymous, controversial talk show, died at age 79 Thursday from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Why are pancreatic cancer survival rates so low?

A lack of cost-effective screenings that can reliably detect cancer in  people without notable symptoms makes it difficult to diagnose.

As a result, most cases are diagnosed at advanced stages – often Stage 4, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

For example, Ginsburg's cancer was discovered during a regular checkup and after she had surgery to treat it she lived for more than a decade, a rarity among those who have pancreatic cancer.

Most people diagnosed with the cancer are not candidates for surgery because the cancer has metastasized – spread outside of the pancreas to other parts of the body. And although treatment is available, pancreatic cancer is considered largely incurable.

Jerry Springer, controversial daytime talk show host, dies at 79 of pancreatic cancer

Who else has died from pancreatic cancer?

Trebek died at the age of 80 in November 2020, about 20 months after he announced he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer – more than twice as long as the average patient survives after diagnosis, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for pancreatic cancer research.

That same year, civil rights icon John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg also died of pancreatic cancer at ages 80 and 87, respectively.

Franklin died of the disease at age 76 in 2018, Steve Jobs at age 56 in 2011, Patrick Swayze at age 57 in 2009 and Luciano Pavarotti at age 71 in 2007.

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What are risk factors for pancreatic cancer?

The American Cancer Society reports the chances of developing pancreatic cancer are affected by specific risk factors that can be controlled:

  • People who smoke are about twice as likely to get it.

  • People who are "very overweight" face a 20% higher chance of getting it.

  • Diabetes, especially Type 2, puts people at increased risk.

  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas, commonly linked with smoking and heavy alcohol use, increases the chances.

Other factors include age (at least two-thirds of patients are 65 or older), gender (men are slightly more likely to get it), race (Black people are slightly more likely than white people to get it) and inherited gene mutations (found in 10% of cases).

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What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Before the diagnosis, Trebek said, he experienced persistent stomach pains, and Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that dull pain in the upper abdomen or upper back is common.

“This is probably caused by a tumor that has formed in the body or tail of the pancreas because it can press on the spine,’’ according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Some patients describe pain starting in the middle abdomen and radiating into the back. Pain can be worse when lying down and can often be relieved by leaning forward. Pancreatic cancer pain can differ from person to person."

Symptoms can include jaundice, pain and weight loss.

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Contributing: Josh Peter

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jerry Springer and pancreatic cancer: What to know about the disease