Steve Jobs’ visibly skeletal appearance has once again spooked investors with questions about Apple’s CEO health condition. Not satisfied with the official "common bug" explanation, Fortune discovered that Jobs’ apparent body mass loss is normal and caused by side effects of Whipple treatment that the CEO allegedly underwent to surgically remove his pancreatic cancer years ago.
Apple’s CEO gaunt and skeletal look during the WWDC last week raised concerns about the CEO’s health, prompting some to ask if the big C is back. But it seems Jobs’ apparent body weight loss is an expected, continuous and normal side effect of a special treatment he underwent to cure his condition years ago.
The rumors started flying when Drudge Report published pictures taken during Jobs’ keynote appearance, with the Wall Street Journal publishing a comment that swiftly provoked a reaction from Apple spokeswoman last Tuesday, something the company rarely does. The company said that Jobs looked a bit exhausted due to the antibiotics treatment to help him fight a "common bug".
Steve Jobs underwent pancreatic cancer surgery in 2003. This type of tumor is described to be extremely aggressive, but Jobs found out that he actually had an rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which that can be treated surgically, without radiation or chemotherapy.
He informed very few of his most trusted executives about his condition in mid-2004; the surgery was performed on July 31, 2004. In his absence, Apple’s head of worldwide sales and operations .Timothy D. Cook ran the company. The public and rest of the employees were informed the following week, when the surgery was reported to have been successful.
"This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas. I will be recuperating during the month of August, and expect to return to work in September," wrote Jobs in an email.
No details were given whether Jobs was completely cured. Apple’s behavior in this critical situation apparently concerned investors, prompting analysts to ask what would happen, if Jobs steps down due to health problems.
It is not surprising that Jobs’ gaunt appearance at this year’s WWDC and subsequent "common bug" explanation didn’t satisfy every one and prompted a follow-up. Fortune magazine author Philip Elmer-DeWitt speculated that Jobs’ appearance may have been the result of a special treatment to eliminate his pancreatic cancer. Elmer-DeWitt says Jobs underwent Whipple procedure, much less invasive and risky because only three small incisions are required.
Physicians point out that (ongoing) side effects of the procedure include body weight loss between five and ten percent of the patient’s body mass, regardless of the patient’s diet. The good news is that body loss doesn’t mean that patient’s condition is deteriorating. Dr. Dilip Parekh of the University of Southern California says that proper exercise and diet can let pancreatic cancer survivors "live a normal life."