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Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies at 56

Tech Innovator Had Been Battling Pancreatic Cancer for Years

Back to Apple

During his second tenure at Apple, the company introduced the iPod, the iPhone, and, most recently, the iPad. The popularity of each propelled Apple into its current position as one of the world’s most valuable technology companies.

Meanwhile, its Macintosh line of personal computers has, over the past several years, transformed the company from an also-ran to a top seller in the PC market.

But as Jobs was reviving Apple, his own health was suffering.

Jobs' Pancreatic Cancer

In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when a neuroendocrine tumor was discovered in his pancreas. This type of tumor accounts for 3% of all pancreatic tumors.

The distinction between types of pancreatic cancer is an important one. Whereas the most common form of pancreatic cancer is quite aggressive and deadly, neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer typically progresses slowly and is often treatable.

“Neuroendocrine cancer has a much better prognosis,” says Rodney Pommier, MD, a surgeon at Oregon Health and Science University and an expert in neuroendocrine cancer. Pommier did not participate in Jobs’s care.

Jobs had surgery in 2004 to remove the tumor, after which he returned to work. Five years later, though, he took another medical leave of absence from Apple. This time, he underwent a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis.

Throughout his illness, Jobs preferred privacy over public disclosure of the details of his condition, and the reason for the liver transplant was never disclosed. There was speculation at the time that it was done because his cancer had spread to his liver.

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