Revered 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek provided an update on his stage four pancreatic cancer this week, prompting Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier to reveal that technological advances in cancer treatment have allowed the diagnoses to be less threatening than they once were.
Trebek gave a "mind-boggling" update on Wednesday that he was responding well to chemotherapy, even nearing remission and that some of his tumors had shrunk by as much as 50 percent.
Dr. Saphier, who is also a radiologist, told "Fox & Friends" that in modern medical times, cancer is not the "death sentence" it was once perceived as.
"Cancer is just a word," she said. "It's not necessarily a sentence. And even if you have stage 4 pancreatic cancer, meaning it's metastasized, it's spread elsewhere from the pancreas, he's seeing great improvements," she continued.
This is largely credited to technological advancements in the medical field, Dr. Saphier added. However, there is something to be said for the impact that positive thinking and community support can have on cancer patients.
"It's not necessarily a life sentence anymore, but there is something very powerful about hope and positive thinking and just the support that he has been getting and that is stronger than any sort of treatment we could ever hope to give him," she continued.
Pancreatic cancer is extremely hard to diagnose until it is in an aggressive form, because symptoms often don't appear until much later, according to Dr. Saphier. It's also fairly uncommon as opposed to other forms, like lung, breast and skin cancer, so it is not included among frequent screenings.
However, with advancements in medicine, those diagnosed with even aggressive forms of cancer are able to live at a higher quality of life for longer, she said.
"Really these days cancer can almost be treated like a chronic disease like diabetes," she said. People are living many, many years on treatment.
"We are here to prolong life and give a quality of life. It's not about reaching remission or curing cancer these days, just allowing people to live," she concluded.