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Wear purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day Thursday

Awareness was raised this year with news that "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek is battling pancreatic cancer.
Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
FILE - In this May 5, 2019, file photo Alex Trebek poses in the press room at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, Calif. Trebek said Tuesday, Sept. 17, that he’s had a setback in his battle with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy again.(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Thursday is World Pancreatic Cancer Day, a day to bring awareness to the form of cancer expected to take the lives of more than 45,000 in the U.S. people this year alone.

People are encouraged to wear purple Thursday to help bring attention to the disease.

The American Cancer Society says 56,770 Americans will be diagnosed this year and 45,750 will die. It makes up about 3% of all cancers in the U.S. and about 7% of all cancer deaths.

Worldwide, an estimated 1,184 people will die from pancreatic cancer each day, according to the Global Cancer Observatory.

The fight has been elevated the past year after "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announced in March he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He announced in September that he was resuming chemotherapy.

Trebek released a public service announcement for the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition.

"I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer," Trebek said.

RELATED: 'Jeopardy!' contestants organize play-along to raise money for pancreatic cancer research

RELATED: Alex Trebek releases PSA for pancreatic cancer awareness: 'I wish I had known sooner'

Risk factors that could lead to pancreatic cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, include:

  • Smoking: Can double the risk
  • Obesity: Can increase the risk 20%
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Workplace exposure to certain chemicals
  • Age: Almost all pancreatic cancer patients are over 45. Two-thirds are at least 65. Average diagnosis age is 70.
  • Family history of cancer
  • Gender: Men are slightly more likely than women to be diagnosed, which may be due in part to higher tobacco use
  • Ethnicity: African-Americans are slightly more likely than whites to be diagnosed. This may be due to having higher rates of some of the aforementioned risk factors.

Symptoms that could indicate pancreatic cancer, according to the World Pancreatic Cancer Day website.

  • Abdominal and mid-back pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Change in stool
  • New-onset diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood Change

If you've experienced any of the symptoms above, you're urged to reach out to your doctor right away.

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