pancreatic cancer – steve jobs cancer – Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple’s CEO Wednesday has fueled speculation about the computer visionary’s health. One thing’s for sure: fighting a rare pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor of the sort Jobs has acknowledged having is complicated business. “People can co-exist with this disease for years,” Dr. Richard Goldberg, a neuroendocrine tumor expert at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who has not treated pancreatic cancer Jobs, told USA Today. “When you hit the wall, you hit the wall.”
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor are generally more curable than more common types of pancreatic cancer where patients often live less than a year, Dr. Margaret Tempero, a pancreatic cancer expert at the University of California-San Francisco, told USA Today.
Many Kinds the treatment pancreatic cancer
Treatment options vary but include chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, surgery to remove the tumor or surrounding tissue, and a liver transplant if necessary. Jobs underwent a liver transplant in 2009 while on a medical leave from Apple, CBS Newsreported.
Liver transplants for neuroendocrine tumors are “occasionally successful, but it’s a real long shot,” Tempero said. Up to 80 percent of patients who get liver transplants to treat this type of cancer live for at least five years, Reuters reported.
Dr. Simon Lo, director of pancreatic and biliary diseases at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told Reuters, that the most likely serious complication from a liver transplant would be that it inadvertently furthers the cancer’s spread. Lo said immunosuppressant drugs, typically given to transplant patients, may hinder the body’s ability to fight cancer if it returns. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital has more on pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.
Steve Jobs has battled pancreatic cancer
Steve Jobs has battled a rare form of pancreatic cancer for years, undergoing a series of aggressive treatments, including a liver transplant, and surviving longer than many others with the disease. Jobs suffers from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which accounts for only about 5% of the 43,000 pancreatic cancers diagnosed each year, and is generally more curable than more common types of pancreatic cancer, says Margaret Tempero, a pancreatic cancer expert at the University of California-San Francisco and former president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Patients with the most common form of pancreatic cancer often live less than a year, says Tempero, who hasn’t treated Jobs.
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Neuroendocrine tumors, which arise in hormone-producing cells of the pancreas, typically grow much more slowly, allowing patients to live at least two or three years, says Wainberg, who hasn’t treated Jobs. “People can co-exist with this disease for years,” says Richard Goldberg, an expert in neuroendocrine tumors at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who has not treated Jobs. If the liver begins to fail, however, “people can go downhill pretty quickly. Only about 10% of people with metastatic disease — cancer that has spread around the body — survive this type of tumor, Goldberg says.
“Given his will to dominate, you’d have to speculate that he must not be doing well,” says James Abbruzzese, a pancreatic cancer expert at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Abbruzzese, one of the USA’s leading pancreatic cancer specialists, consulted on Jobs’ care early in the course of his treatment, but has not participated in Jobs’ treatment in several years.
Jobs has undergone aggressive treatment for the cancer, which he first acknowledged in 2004. Jobs had surgery to treat the original cancer, then underwent a liver transplant in 2009. Liver transplants for this kind of tumor are “occasionally successful, but it’s a real long shot,” Tempero says.
Patients who receive organ transplants must take drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ, Tempero says. In rare cases, a liver transplant may cure the patient’s cancer, if it hasn’t spread around the body, Abbruzzese says. Actor Patrick Swayze died of the more common type of pancreatic cancer in 2009, as did opera star Luciano Pavarotti in 2007. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also has had pancreatic cancer.
Doctors don’t know what causes neuroendocrine tumors, Abbruzzese says.
Those at greater risk include men, African-Americans, people older than 50, diabetics and those with a family history of pancreatic cancer. Tempero notes that the Food and Drug Administration approved two new drugs for neuroendocrine tumors, sunitinib and everolimus, this year.