Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Steve Jobs: A High-Profile Death from Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer may be one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but it hasn’t always received much attention in popular media. This changed in October 2011, however, when a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor took the life of Apple founder, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was a rare case. His was a neuroendocrine cancer, and in many cases, this type of pancreatic cancer has a better prognosis than pancreatic adenocarinoma. It’s treated with different chemotherapy drugs. Jobs had also had a liver transplant in 2009, because the cancer had spread to it. This isn’t a standard treatment, as the cancer can simply spread into the new liver. Although the transplant allowed Jobs to avoid liver failure, the immunosuppressive drugs he needed after the transplant may have weakened his body’s ability to fight the cancer. It may not have prolonged his life significantly, though it’s impossible to know.

 

The Future of Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Effective treatments for pancreatic cancers are limited. If it’s caught in an early stage, which is rare, it can be surgically excised. If it’s already spread, chemotherapy is used, although it’s not particularly effective. Today, researchers are working on exploring the different molecular and genetic underpinnings of different types of pancreatic tumors. As these diseases become better understood by medical scientists, new treatments like immunotherapy drugs could be developed to treat it more effectively.

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