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Entries in Steve Jobs (3)

Thursday
Oct202011

Steve Jobs Regretted Delaying Cancer Surgery 9 Months, Biographer Says

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Steve Jobs, the visionary Apple co-founder who died earlier this month at 56, admitted to biographer Walter Isaacson that for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer -- a decision he later regretted as his health declined.

In advance of the Monday release of his book, Steve Jobs: A Biography, Isaacson told the CBS News program 60 Minutes that Jobs said he initially felt the surgery would be too invasive.

"I've asked [Jobs why he didn't get an operation earlier] and he said, 'I didn't want my body to be opened...I didn't want to be violated in that way,'" Isaacson says in an interview excerpt posted Thursday on the CBS News website.

How could Jobs have made such a decision?

"I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking...we talked about this a lot," Isaacson told CBS News. "He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it....I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner."

Jobs, fascinated by Eastern mysticism in his youth, believed in alternative herbal treatments, and sources have told ABC News in the past that they thought he minimized the seriousness of his condition. One source close to Jobs said he kept his medical problems private, even from members of Apple's board of directors -- who finally had to persuade him his health was of critical importance to Apple's success and the value of its stock to shareholders.

Ramzi Amri, a researcher in surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, wrote a controversial piece last week about Jobs' aversion to mainstream medicine, and argued that Jobs may have hastened his own death.

"I respect the privacy of, and in no way wish to offend, anyone mourning his passing," he wrote. But Jobs had a rare neuroendocrine tumor that was far easier for Western medicine to treat than "ordinary" pancreatic cancer, said Amri. He instead sought alternative treatments.

"This was, of course, a freedom he had all the rights to take," said Amri, "but given the circumstances it seems sound to assume that Mr. Jobs' choice for alternative medicine could have led to an unnecessarily early death."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan202011

Steve Jobs' Cancer Treatment in Switzerland Experimental, Effective

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Recent media reports have begun to shed more light on Steve Jobs' medical condition and the treatment he's believed to have sought overseas.

According to Fortune magazine, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, Inc, who is currently on medical leave, flew to Switzerland in 2009 to receive a treatment for neuroendocrine cancer that isn't yet approved in the U.S.  The Wall Street Journal reported Jobs also had a liver transplant that year.

Fortune said it learned about the unpublicized trip to Switzerland from former Apple director Jerry York, who died in 2010.

In 2004, doctors found that Jobs had a pancreatic neuroendocrine islet cell tumor, which is very different from the more well-known pancreatic cancer that took the life of actor Patrick Swayze in 2009.

Neuroendocrine cancers affect cells throughout the body that secrete hormones.  The tumors can cause the secretion of either too much hormone or not enough.  They are relatively rare, but more and more new cases are being diagnosed, and experts attribute that trend to better recognition of these tumors.

Experts say the treatment Jobs underwent is an experimental procedure called peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT).  It involves delivering radiation to tumor cells by attaching one of two radioactive isotopes to a drug that mimics somatostatin, the hormone that regulates the entire endocrine system and the secretion of other hormones.

Specialists who treat neuroendocrine cancers say PRRT is very effective, but because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet approved it, patients who want the treatment typically head to Europe for it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Docs Say Steve Jobs Likely Dealing with Pancreatic Cancer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nearly two years since receiving a new liver and fighting a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc., announced to his employees Monday he will take an indefinite leave of absence from the company to focus on his health.

While Jobs did not address specific health reasons, many experts say it's likely that his leave is related to his ongoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can," Jobs wrote in the latest message to his team.

Jobs, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, initially underwent surgery to remove the tumor. A few months after announcing a leave of absence in January 2009, Jobs had a liver transplant.

Experts say the length of his survival is mainly because he had a slow-growing, rare cancer called a pancreatic neuroendocrine islet cell tumor. While experts say neuroendocrine cancers are known to spread to the liver, Jobs remained private about his condition and the reason behind his transplant.

Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where Jobs underwent his transplant, confirmed that Jobs is no longer a patient at the hospital and declined to comment to ABC News about Jobs' transplant.

"You hear the term pancreatic cancer and you immediately think Pavarotti or Patrick Swayze, but this is a completely different animal," Dr. Andrew Warshaw, surgeon-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, told MedPage Today and ABC News.

"For adenomas, the timeline is very short. The pace of progress with neuroendocrine cancers can be many years, even with metastatic disease. It has a different biology," said Warshaw.

Only six percent of patients with any form of pancreatic cancer live longer than five years, according to the nonprofit organization Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Neuroendocrine tumors are slow-growing, but frequently metastasize to the liver. Researchers say that appears to be what happened to Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., in April 2009.

Dr. Richard Alexander, a surgical oncologist at the University of Maryland who specializes in pancreatic cancer, said this is a very rare treatment, and is usually a last resort when the metastasized cancer doesn't respond to treatments such as chemotherapy.

Dr. David Metz, a gastroenterologist at the University of Pennsylvania who conducted a 2005 literature review on liver transplant for neuroendocrine tumor metastases, said survival is variable: "Some recur in a year; others, a few years after surgery."

Data in his report noted a 52-percent survival rate two years after liver transplantation -- but he cautioned that accurate outcome data are hard to come by because the procedure is so rare.

If the tumor has recurred, Alexander said treatment options would include chemotherapy or embolization, although performing surgery "on a transplanted liver is high-risk."

Patients who undergo transplants are typically put on immunosuppressant medication to help their bodies accept the new liver. However, suppressing the immune system can allow cancer cells to grow more quickly, said Alexander.

Warshaw said patients who get immunosuppressants can respond very differently to regular cancer treatments.

"All bets are off" for understanding what type of treatment will be successful, Warshaw said.

Still, it is not clear why Jobs is taking this leave, his third since 2004. Aside from tumor recurrence, he could also be dealing with organ rejection or a possible hormone imbalance if the tumor is active.

In general, Metz said neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors are a relief "because patients stick around for a long time and we can use various modalities to treat them. The downside is that the likelihood of 'curing' people once they've metastasized is very low."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio