Steve Jobs , brain of Apple, died after seven years of struggle for a metastatic neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas , a less common and deadly variant than pancreatic cancer. After performing a series of 'alternative therapies', he underwent pancreatic surgery to remove the malignant cells of the pancreas and, later (after the relative success of the surgical procedure), to a liver transplant for metastasis in that organ.. The transplant involved the spread of malignant cells in other organs in which no tumor had been detected, and the tech tycoon ended up dying.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors represent 1-3% of all tumors of the pancreas and differ fundamentally from pancreatic cancer in their survival. While the average survival of pancreatic cancer is 6 to 12 months, in neuroendocrine tumors it can reach several years , as in the case of Steve Jobs. Neuroendocrine tumors are easier to detect than cancer and, therefore, can be diagnosed in time. In this class of tumors, the average survival of about five years exceeds 30% of cases. Its incidence is 5-10 cases per million inhabitants and year. They usually appear in the age group between 40 and 60 years , without sexual preference.
The majority of neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas are non-functioning, asymptomatic, silent and 'incidentalomas' (tumor that is detected by chance due to the absence of symptoms).. However, about 30% are functional and present symptoms derived from hormonal hypersecretion (insulin, glucagon, gastrin, serotonin, etc.).
The appearance of metastasis in tumors
The benign or malignant result of the process is a function of the appearance of metastasis, which involves the spread of tumor cells anywhere in the body outside the primitive tumor. In cases of advanced metastatic disease, treatments can be performed with Somatostatin analogues, and two new drugs: Sunitinib and Everolimus.. If only liver or liver metastases exist, a liver transplant can be performed. Prognosis and survival depend fundamentally on the possibility of performing surgery with curative intent (removal of the tumor) and the absence of metastatic disease.