Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on January 3, 2020

From Alex Trebek talking chemotherapy for his pancreatic cancer and his final “Jeopardy!” show to the passing of World Series Legend Don Larsen, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.
BY Katie Kosko
PUBLISHED January 03, 2020
Alex Trebek told ABC's Michael Strahan in a primetime interview that “the cancer won’t kill me, the chemo will.”

The 79-year-old “Jeopardy!” host who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer opened up about moments of depression that come with a diagnosis, but that he’s enjoying the outpouring of love and kindness from viewers who have reached out to him since he revealed his diagnosis in March 2019. Trebek also explained that the negative symptoms he’s experiencing aren’t from the cancer itself, but from the chemotherapy.

Last May, he announced that his cancer was in near remission but a setback in September meant another round of chemotherapy. “I don’t mind experimenting,” Trebek said. “I have nothing to lose. So let’s go for it.”

His wife, Jean, of 29 years, shared that the hardest part has been seeing him in pain but not being able to help, adding that it’s also difficult when he doesn’t eat right and drinks too much diet soda.

When asked about retirement, Trebek told Strahan that he’s already rehearsed what he will say during his final show and will only need 30 seconds to share it: “I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me ... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success.’ And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”

Civil rights icon and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis announced that he is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The 79-year-old announced the news Sunday revealing that his diagnosis was confirmed during a routine medical visit last month.

“It is a challenge and a fight. But I have had challenges before and been fighting all my life,” Lewis said in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I am ready for the fight. I will go through the treatment and face the day each day like it is a new day. I will continue to be hopeful and optimistic.”

World Series Legend Don Larsen passed away Wednesday from esophageal cancer at the age of 90, according to a statement from his agent.

Larsen played for seven teams during his 14-year MLB career but was the only pitcher to throw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series as a New York Yankee.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Don Larsen, who remained a welcome & familiar face at our annual Old-Timers’ Day celebrations,” the New York Yankees announced in a statement. “The Yankees organization extends its deepest condolences to Don’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed.”

New study findings published in JAMA Network Open suggest that a single dose of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine may be as effective as two or three doses in preventing an HPV-related cancer.

The study examined 1,620 women in the United States ages 18 to 26. Between 2009 to 2016, researchers found that 111 of 1,004 unvaccinated women received a diagnosis of HPV types 6, 11, which are low-risk HPV strains and rarely develop into cancer, and 16 or 18, which are high-risk strains and a risk factors for 70% of cervical cancers.

Of women who received the HPV vaccine, four of the 106 women who got one dose; seven of the 126 women who got two doses; and 14 of the 384 women who got three doses were diagnosed with those infections during that time period.

“These findings support previous observational studies and post hoc analyses of vaccine trials that demonstrated comparable effectiveness of 1 dose to 2 or 3 doses,” the researchers wrote.
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