Since the announcement was made earlier this month that Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs would be taking a medical leave of absence there has been significant media coverage about pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, NET cancer, and carcinoid. Although he has not talked publicly about the reason for his leave, it is because of Steve Jobs that the press has focused far greater attention on these rare cancers. Critical needs in the carcinoid and NET cancer community are awareness and early diagnosis. Over 90% of carcinoid/NET cancer patients are incorrectly diagnosed and treated for the wrong disease. From the initial onset of symptoms the average time until proper diagnosis is 5 to 7 years. It is during this time that the cancer can spread.
Richard R.P. Warner, MD, Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Medical Director of the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, told Ellen Greenlaw in an interview for WebMD, “The biggest obstacle in diagnosing carcinoid tumors is not thinking of them.” And the prognosis for NET cancer patients is better the earlier treatment is started. According to Dr. Warner, “we now know that surgery and other treatments work much better when done early. Early, aggressive treatment of carcinoid tumors leads to a much better outcome for patients.”
Among the sources of recent news coverage that have included information about carcinoid and NET cancers are:
- A series of three feature articles by Ellen Greenlaw for WebMD.com:
Jobs’ Illness — Again More Questions than Answers by Maggie Fox
- The Huffington Post
Will Steve Jobs Return from His Leave of Absence? by Bianca Bosker
- Los Angeles Times
- The Wall Street Journal
Apple Chief to Take Leave by Yukari Iwatani Kane and Joann S. Lublin
- Los Angeles Times
Reason behind Steve Jobs’ Medical Leave Unclear by Thomas H. Maugh II (with quote from carcinoid/NET specialist Anthony Heaney, MD of UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center)
- CBS News.com
Steve Jobs’ Future: Tumor Complications Not Uncommon, posted by David W. Freeman
- CNNMoney.com, Fortune Tech
Steve Jobs Went to Switzerland in Search of Cancer Treatment by Doron Levin
What Malady Has Sidelined Steve Jobs? by Marc Siegel
- CTV in Canada
News coverage by health reporter Pauline Chan in which she interviews Maureen Coleman, President of CNETS Canada, and Dr. Simron Singh of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, a medical oncologist who specializes in NETs.
To learn more about pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, you can download a PowerPoint presentation by Michael J. Demeure, MD, MBA, Senior Investigator at TGen (The Translational Genomics Research Institute) and Director of the Rare Tumors Center at Scottsdale Healthcare in Arizona on the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation website.
We all wish Steve Jobs well. And appreciate that, while not necessarily planned, he has helped to bring about greater awareness of carcinoid, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, and NET cancer. This awareness is invaluable for current patients and those will be diagnosed with these rare diseases.