LOS ANGELES -- "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek says he has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
In a video posted online Wednesday, the 78-year-old said he was announcing his illness directly to "Jeopardy!" fans in keeping with his long-time policy of being "open and transparent."
Trebek said he recognizes the prognosis for advanced pancreatic cancer is not encouraging. But he said he intended to fight it and keep working.
He said he hopes to beat the disease's low survival rate with the love and support of family and friends and with prayers of viewers.
Trebek lightened the message with humor: He said he must beat the odds because his "Jeopardy!" contract requires he host the quiz show for three more years.
The full message from Trebek:
"Hi everyone, I have some news to share with all of you and it’s in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy! fan base. I also wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health. So therefore, I wanted to be the one to pass along this information.
Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 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. Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you."
Jennifer Giles is one Colorado contestant who knows Trebek better than most. The teacher at Columbine Elementary in Longmont has been on the show a few times, most recently for its "All Star" series.
"We were just filming with him in January and we knew nothing. He was just as spry and just as affable as ever," Giles said.
Giles said she was surprised and saddened by the news.
"When you see something like that happen to an Alex Trebek, you worry. You worry about my grandfather," Giles said.
Doctor Hannah Polotsky with Kaiser Permanente said pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose.
"There's no screening test, there's no colonoscopy test for pancreatic cancer, there's no mammogram test. So when we find out, it's too late," Polotsky said.
Medical researchers are working on methods to detect the cancer sooner.