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Celebrities with Pancreatic Cancer

Celebrities Who Have Battled Pancreatic Cancer


Updated July 01, 2014

Pancreatic cancer isn't selective -- it does not care if you are famous or wealthy. Over the years, several celebrities have been diagnosed with disease. Sadly, most succumbed to their battle with pancreatic cancer.

Their diagnoses have raised awareness about a disease that is often detected in advanced stages and usually fatal. The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has especially put a much-needed spotlight on pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is severely underfunded, largely because of how rare it is and the high mortality rate. While other types of cancer have witnessed improved 5-year survival rates in recent decades, pancreatic cancer's statistics have remained stagnant.

Celebrities With Pancreatic Cancer

  • Steve Jobs: Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004. He suffered from pancreatic endocrine cancer, which affects about 2,500 Americans each year. Jobs died in October 2011 after battling the disease for eight years.

  • Patrick Swayze: Diagnosed in 2008, actor Patrick Swayze battled pancreatic cancer with an experimental drug. He continued to work throughout treatment, a testament to his strength during his battle. Swayze died in September 2009. Read more about Patrick Swayze's cancer diagnosis.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In 2009, the Supreme Court Justice underwent surgery to treat pancreatic cancer. It was detected during an annual health exam and was in the very early stages of the disease. People with early stage pancreatic cancer generally have better outcomes than those diagnosed in later stages. Ginsburg continues to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

  • Joan Crawford: Oscar-winning actress and screen legend Joan Crawford died of a heart attack while battling pancreatic cancer in 1971.

  • Michael Landon: Actor Michael Landon's pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in the late stages and had already spread to his liver. Despite intensive treatment, Landon succumbed to the disease in April 1991.

  • Fred Gwynne: Best known for his role on the television series The Munsters, Fred Gwynne died of pancreatic cancer in July 1993.

  • Luciano Pavarotti: In July 2006, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti underwent surgery to treat a malignant pancreatic mass, forcing him to cancel his farewell tour. A little over a year later in September 2007, Pavarotti died of the disease.

  • Jack Benny: Comedian Jack Benny began experiencing symptoms in October 1974, which eventually led to a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. The actor died just weeks later in December at age 80.

  • Rex Harrison: It is reported that actor Rex Harrison was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1989. Little is known about his diagnosis, such as the stage and treatment. He died in 1990.

  • Donna Reed: Actress Donna Reed died of pancreatic cancer just three months after being diagnosed in October 1986. She was 64.

  • Henry Mancini: Musical composer Henry Mancini died of pancreatic cancer in June 1994.

  • Count Basie: Jazz pianist and composer Count Basie died of pancreatic cancer in April 1984. He was 79.

More About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, a small gland that lies behind the stomach and in front of your spine. Your pancreas is responsible for producing digestive juices that help break down food and also for producing hormones that control blood sugar.

According to the American Cancer Society, over 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011. Over 37,000 will die of the disease in 2011 alone. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

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