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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora