Bloomberg reported this afternoon that Steve Jobs is “considering a liver transplant as a result of complications after treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004, according to people who are monitoring his illness.”
Bloomberg doesn’t specify if any of the “people who are monitoring his illness” actually have any access to Jobs or his medical records. We asked the reporters for clarification; one tells us they “can’t offer any more details.”
The article repeatedly quotes Steven Brower, professor and chairman of surgery at Mercer University School of Medicine in Savannah, Georgia. Brower “hasn’t treated Jobs and doesn’t know details of his condition.”
A Bloomberg rep says “We stand by the story but won’t be providing more details at this time.”
Yesterday, Bloomberg speculated that Jobs’ pancreas may be removed, citing doctors with no knowledge of Jobs’ case.
Bloomberg reached out to Steve himself, who did not provide any additional information.
“Why don’t you guys leave me alone — why is this important?” Jobs said in a telephone interview.
Bloomberg also explained why a liver transplant might be under consideration:
Neuroendocrine tumors that originate in the pancreas, as Jobs’s did, often spread to the liver. One option doctors have in these cases is to perform a liver transplant, Brower said.
“It’s one of the tumors for which transplantation can be considered,” said Brower, who is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “It’s rare, but it’s sometimes done…”
Brower said the transplant might work out well in a patient whose neuroendocrine cancer began in the pancreas, in part because this tumour type often spreads only to the liver and grows so slowly. Even after having had a Whipple procedure, a patient might expect to have good quality of life, he said.
“The outcome can be quite good,” he said. “With immunosuppressive drugs, the patient can expect to have a significant, durable life expectancy.”
Some liver transplant patients get part of an organ from a living donor. After the operation, the livers of the donor and recipient grow back to normal size.
A patient getting a liver transplant for a neuroendocrine tumour that has spread from the pancreas might get a partial organ, Brower said. Complete organs that come from cadavers are in short supply, and are generally reserved for patients with liver failure, cirrhosis or certain kinds of liver cancer, he said.