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Maria Menounos is sharing new details about her pancreatic cancer diagnosis. The 44-year-old TV host revealed to People Magazine that she found out she had type 1 diabetes last year after suffering severe leg cramps. After a series of tests, a whole-body MRI showed a 4 centimeter mass on her pancreas. She was diagnosed with a stage 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in January.

“I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early,” Menounos told People. “You can’t let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a goner — but I’m OK because I caught this early enough.”

According to Dr. Pamela Hodul, a gastrointestinal surgeon at Moffitt Cancer Center, new or worsening diabetes is an early warning sign when it comes to pancreatic cancer.

“Most individuals are either asymptomatic until they present with painless jaundice or they have several months of unrecognized symptoms of pancreatic cancer including weight loss, new onset or worsening diabetes, diarrhea, pancreatitis or queasiness of the stomach,” Hodul said. “These symptoms often lead to patients being misdiagnosed with conditions such as insulin resistant diabetes, irritable bowel disease, gallbladder disease and ulcers.”

Dr. Pamela Hodul, surgeon, Gastrointestinal Oncology Program

Dr. Pamela Hodul, Gastrointestinal Oncology Program

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 64,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Of those, about 50,000 will die from the disease. Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the United States and about 7% of all cancer deaths.

While Jerry Springer and Alex Trebek both died from the disease in the past year, they were diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most common form of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), like the one Menounos was treated for, are less common, accounting for less than 2% of all cancers found in the pancreas each year. NETs also tend to have a better prognosis.

Menounos has been very public with her health journey. She was treated for a benign brain tumor in 2017.

“I was feeling so good, and then I got slapped in the face with a new diagnosis,” Menounos said. “I’d scream out loud, I was inconsolable.”

In February, Menounos underwent surgery to remove the tumor, as well as the tail of her pancreas, her entire spleen, 17 lymph nodes and a uterine fibroid. Her doctors told her she will not require chemotherapy or additional treatment, just annual scans for the next five years. Hodul says less than 20% of pancreatic cancer cases are caught early enough to be considered for surgery.

“Surgery for pancreatic cancer is dependent on the location of the cancer. Cancers in the head of the pancreas require a Whipple procedure, however cancers of the body and tail require distal pancreatectomy and removal of the spleen.”

While Menounos did not need any other treatment, Hodul says it is not uncommon for patients with early stage disease to require chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery.