News / USA

Jobs' Pancreatic Cancer Led to Other Health Issues

Disease is hard to treat because it is difficult to diagnose

In 2004, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced he had undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer.
In 2004, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced he had undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Vidushi Sinha

When Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple last week, he said it was because he could no longer perform up to the demands of the position. Jobs is known to have been treated for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Oncologists say pancreatic cancer is hard to treat because it is difficult  to diagnose. The organ is embedded deep in the abdomen, symptoms only become evident in a late stage of the disease.

In 2004, Jobs announced he had undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer - a mild and rare form of the disease called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.

That form makes up about five percent of all of pancreatic cancers. It affects the cells that produce hormones to control blood sugar levels. The more deadly, and common, form appears in the exocrine cells of the pancreas that produce digestive enzymes.

The pancreas is a 15-centimeter-long gland tucked behind the stomach and below the liver. Pancreatic cancer can be hard to diagnose, since the early stages have no visible symptoms.

"There are no screening tests in a way mammograms are a good screening tool for breast cancer, or checking blood levels for prostate cancer," says Dr. Khaled el-Shami, a cancer specialist at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Five years after cancer surgery, Jobs got a liver transplant.

"About five months ago I had a liver transplant," Jobs said at the time. "So I now have the liver of a mid-20s person.”

El-Shami says that's not surprising, because cancer in the pancreas can spread. “Neuroendocrine tumors tend to spread from pancreas to the liver, and the liver being a vital organ, removing the cancer from the liver can result in improved survival. Liver transplant is a radical way of removing cancer in the liver.”

But el-Shami warns a transplant is not a guaranteed cure.

“It’s a balance between removing a big chunk of cancer in the liver and the risk of having a weakened immune system, which can encourage not only the original cancer to come back but also emergence of other cancers.”

Dr. Matthew Walsh is chairman of General Surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

“It tends to be a disease that does come back, does spread, does take your strength away," he says, "sort of have all the cancer-associated symptoms and people still do die from this type of cancer.”

While he has never treated Jobs and does not know the details of his case, Walsh says Jobs' operation could have had major consequences.

"In terms of nutrition - perhaps diabetes - if you don’t get all your pancreatic enzymes you will lose weight because you are not absorbing all your essential fats and so the part of what he is going through is consequences of a bad operation as well," he says. "Plus he has other issues having a liver transplant in terms of immuno-suppression that might actually affect the growth of the tumor.”

El-Shami says some types of pancreatic cancer can run in families. Smoking and alcohol use are linked to the disease. But he says there is no known cause for the majority of cases.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid