Steve Jobs Succumbs to Complications after Pancreatic Cancer at 56
Today, the world has lost a visionary and creative genius and amazing human being. Steve Jobs, co-founder and former chief executive of Apple who had been suffering from health issues following surgery for pancreatic cancer, has died at the age of 56 “peacefully…surrounded by his family.”
“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor,” the company noted in a statement today. “Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”
In August 2004, Mr. Jobs had surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer known as islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. The surgery, known as a pancreaticduodenectomy (or Whipple procedure) appeared to successfully remove the cancer, and Mr. Jobs did not undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Unfortunately, however, long term survival after this surgery for pancreatic cancer is poor, notes a study published in the April 22, 2008 issue of the Annals of Surgery. Only one in eight patients are able to achieve a 10-year survival with potential for cure.
Overall, pancreatic cancer is estimated to account for 1 in 75 deaths in the United States, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The overall 5-year survival for pancreatic malignancies is only 3 to 5%.
After his surgery, Mr. Jobs was noted to have significant weight loss, a common long-term complication. Initially, delayed gastric emptying occurs in about 40% of patients, which often results in the patient eating fewer calories due to feelings of fullness. Long-term, endocrine and exocrine insufficiency becomes more predominant and diabetes mellitus develops in 20-50% of patients. The main presenting symptom of this condition is weight loss and steatorrhea, the presence of excess fat in the feces.
Five years after the surgery, in April 2009, Mr. Jobs received a liver transplant. Since that surgery, he was granted several leaves of absences to focus on his health. In August, he wrote “I have always said that if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Steve Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene, four children, and 2 sisters as well as “49,000 Apple employees,” notes CBS News. Tim Cook, the man who took over for Mr. Jobs as CEO of Apple in August, writes that “We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon.”
Thomas Schnelldorfer, MD et al. Long-Term Survival After Pancreatoduodenectomy for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma: Is Cure Possible?
Annals of Surgery. 2008;247(3):456-462.
TC Khe Tran et al. Functional Changes after Pancreatoduodenectomy: Diagnosis and Treatment. Pancreatology 2009;9:729-737
Image Credit: Apple Inc.