FAQ: Steve Jobs' Pancreatic Cancer
Uncommon Islet Cell Tumor Often Curable -- Unless It Comes Back
Why Did Steve Jobs Have a Liver Transplant?
Although it's now known that Jobs received a liver transplant in Tennessee, it's not clear why. However, Levi says that a small number of patients with islet cell carcinoma may undergo liver transplant if their cancer has spread to the liver but does not appear to have spread elsewhere.
"A very small subset of patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors can be treated with liver transplant -- and this can be curative," Levi says.
It's not a procedure for people who may have cancer remaining in their bodies. That's because transplant patients must stay on immune-suppressing anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. Without a functioning immune system, remaining cancer cells grow uncontrollably.
"The cancer can recur after liver transplant. When it does recur, it carries a pretty poor prognosis and ultimately is the cause of death," Levi says." We are limited in what we can do. The patient is immune suppressed. This usually means the cancer is aggressive, and once it recurs it usually is not curable."