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Steve Jobs Forced to Take Medical Leave from Apple

Posted by zduncan | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-01-2011

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Everybody knows about the unfortunate personal health issues that plague Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs was forced to be admitted to the hospital a while back and things looked to be getting better since then. However, Jobs has decided to take yet another medical leave of absence from Apple. It is still unclear as to why this has happened. Some fear he may be suffering from a rejection of his transplanted liver or possibly a reccurence of his pancreatic cancer.

Jobs’ decision to leave Apple temporarily could be from an infection, a rejection episode with his transplanted liver or a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer according to experts on Monday. However, none of these are concrete and the actual reason behind Jobs’ leave of absence is still a mystery. According to Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, “If we don’t know more, it is all speculation. But we worry the tumor is back.” Dr. Lenz is a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at USC.

Jobs was diagnosed with cancer back in 2003. The cancer is known as an islet cell, or neuroendocrine, tumor. This is a highly rare form of pancreatic tumor than is not typically seen, but is also a much more survivable form of cancer. If it is caught early enough, it can usually be successfully treated by removing the tumor via surgery. The bad thing is that this form of cancer frequently spreads to the liver which happened to Jobs without initially being detected.

When it was found, there were apparently too many tumors on the liver to allow surgical removal. Physicians were then forced to remove Jobs’ entire liver and transplant a new one which occurred in 2009. Doctors would not have performed the transplant if they were not certain that all of the cancer was gone. According to Dr. Gagandeep Singh, chief of hepatobiliary surgery at City of Hope in Duarte, “If even small pockets of tumor remained behind, the fear would be that the cancer will come back with a vengeance because the immune system has to be repressed in transplant recipients, leaving it less able to fight the cancer.”

Endocrinologist at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center Dr. Anthony Heany said that “the challenge is, even with the very sophisticated and detailed evaluations we can undertake, if there is a micrometastasis sitting in a lymph node somewhere, we may not pick it up.” He added that when immunosuppressive drugs are started, the tumor cells can “begin to develop and blossom”.

According to Singh, there is not a lot of information on long-term survival after such transplants. Medical literature doesn’t have more than 20 such cases. For those 20 cases, the one-year survival rate is between 80% and 85% with the five-year survival rate dropping to only 40%.

Another possibility is that the immunosuppressive drugs Jobs is on could be causing an infection to become more aggressive due to the fact that Jobs’  body is unable to fight it off. According to Hearny, the fact that Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence “would indicate that he is planning to undertake a program of treatment.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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