1 of 17

Alex Trebek

The host of the long-running game show Jeopardy! announced in March 2019 that he had stage IV pancreatic cancer. In an interview with Jane Pauley of CBS, he said that it started with a pain in his stomach that wouldn’t go away. Even though he felt bad, he kept working through his chemo treatments. Trebek passed away from complications of the disease at his home on Nov. 8, 2020.

2 of 17

Steve Jobs

In 2003, doctors diagnosed the larger-than-life CEO of Apple with a rare neuroendocrine tumor. This was not actually pancreatic cancer, but a different type that happened to start in his pancreas. Surgeons tried to remove it, but it came back and spread to his liver. Jobs stepped down as Apple's CEO in August 2011, and he passed away from the disease on Oct. 5 of that year.

3 of 17

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Doctors diagnosed the Supreme Court justice with pancreatic cancer in 2009. Soon after that, surgeons removed her pancreas and spleen. Ginsburg had already had surgery and chemotherapy for colorectal cancer in 1999. She died due to complications of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, 2020, and became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

4 of 17

Aretha Franklin

A neuroendocrine tumor in the pancreas, like the one that took the life of Steve Jobs, also struck the legendary Queen of Soul. She had faced health problems for several years but had kept details about her illness a secret. Franklin’s last performance was for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on Nov. 2, 2017, in New York City. She died on Aug. 26, 2018, at age 76.

5 of 17

John Hurt

The celebrated English actor was known for his roles in the Harry Potter movies, Alien, and The  Elephant Man. In 2015, he revealed that he had early-stage pancreatic cancer. He kept on working after his diagnosis. He said at the time: “I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome.” Hurt passed away in January 2017 at age 77.

6 of 17

Luciano Pavarotti

The wildly popular bearded tenor sang at the world’s greatest opera houses and classical music halls. But he also sang with James Brown, Bono, the Spice Girls, and other pop stars. He had surgery in the summer of 2006, after doctors found a cancerous mass in his pancreas. He passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 6, 2007, at age 71.

7 of 17

Sharon Jones

She came to public attention in 2002 with the album Dap-Dippin’ With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, a mashup of classic ’60s-style soul. Fame, fortune, and five more albums would follow. Doctors diagnosed pancreatic cancer in 2013. To fight it, they removed part of her pancreas and all of her gallbladder. The cancer came back 9 months later. Jones died from the disease in November 2016, at age 60.

8 of 17

Alan Rickman

The English actor came to fame playing villains: Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Kids the world over know him as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on January 14, 2016, at age 69.

9 of 17

Dizzy Gillespie

A towering figure in jazz history, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie helped define the bebop style in the 1940s. He was honored by both fellow musicians and U.S. presidents for his decades of performance. Doctors were treating Gillespie for pancreatic cancer when he died in January 1993 at age 75.

10 of 17

Sally Ride

She was one of America’s first female astronauts. And in June 1983, she became the first U.S. woman in space when she flew in the space shuttle Challenger. Age 32 at the time, she was also the youngest U.S. astronaut to go into space. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012, at age 61, 17 months after her diagnosis.

11 of 17

Patrick Swayze

His breakthrough came in 1983’s The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. After that, he famously played Jennifer Grey’s dance teacher in the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing and Demi Moore’s departed love in Ghost. Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 20 months before dying of the disease in 2009 at age 57.

12 of 17

Michael Landon

He’s most famous as Little Joe on the TV series Bonanza, and Charles Ingalls on Little House On the Prairie. Doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer in April 1991. “I think you have to have a sense of humor about everything,” he said at the time. “If you’re going to try to beat something, you’re not going to do it standing in the corner.” Landon died of the disease July 1, 1991. He was 54.

13 of 17

Joan Crawford

The legendary Hollywood actress got her first big break in 1928 during the silent movie era. She made 80 films over more than 50 years, and won an Oscar for her role in Mildred Pierce. She was battling pancreatic cancer in May 1977 when she died of a heart attack in New York City. She was 69, according to the Los Angeles Times, though her birthdate isn't known for sure. 

14 of 17

Gene Upshaw

A master of the running play, Upshaw played 15 seasons for the Oakland Raiders. The first player to reach the Super Bowl in 3 different decades, he was also named to seven Pro Bowls. Just after his 63rd birthday in 2008, Upshaw felt sick. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the ER and died 3 days later. For the opening NFL game that year, his jersey number -- 63 -- was on every field, and it was on a patch worn by all players that season.

15 of 17

Benjamin Orr

Co-founder and bassist for rock/new wave band The Cars, Benjamin Orr was the vocalist for some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Just What I Needed,” “Let’s Go,” and “Drive.” He also scored a solo Top 40 hit with “Stay the Night.” Orr died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 3, 2000 at the age of 53, less than 6 months after his diagnosis and a week after his last performance.

16 of 17

Charlotte Rae

Rae's most famous character, Edna Garrett, appeared first on the TV Show Diff'rent Strokes, and then on a spinoff called The Facts of Life that ran for nine seasons. Doctors diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer around 2010 and then bone cancer in 2017. She died at her home in Los Angeles on Aug. 5, 2018, at age 92.