News / Health

Rare Pancreatic Cancer Caused Steve Jobs' Death

Vidushi Sinha

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' death at the age of 56 followed a seven-year battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer - the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The disease is hard to treat because it is difficult to diagnose. The pancreas is embedded deep in the abdomen, and often, symptoms of cancer become evident at a very late, advanced 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 that 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.  

“Neuroendocrine tumor, when its detected early, it is curable with surgery alone," explained Dr. Khaled el-Shami, a cancer specialist at George Washington University Medical Center, in Washington. "And when it is advanced, meaning that it has spread from the pancreas to the liver, typically, or other organs - [then] this is [an] incurable disease.”

In 2009, five years after his cancer surgery, Jobs received a liver transplant.

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

Dr. el-Shami says a liver transplant is an aggressive way of dealing with cancer, but it's no “magic bullet".

“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 the emergence of other cancers,” the doctor explained.

While he never treated Steve Jobs and does not know the details of his case, Dr. Matthew Walsh, chairman of General Surgery at Cleveland Clinic says Jobs' cancer was never likely to be cured.

“Having gone through all the treatment, most patients might think that they are cured of the cancer. When it comes back, there is still a great uncertainty [about] what the length of your life will be. It tends to be a disease that does come back - does spread - does take your strength away sort of have all the cancer-associated symptoms and people still die from this type of cancer.”

Few details of Steve Jobs' health have ever been made public, but experts speculate that his cancer may have been a case of late diagnosis.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid