Steve Jobs and a very rare cancer

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Steve Jobs and a very rare cancer

The sad news that Apple founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, has passed away shines a spotlight on a rare and little-understood type of cancer. It has long been reported in the media that Jobs suffered from pancreatic cancer (which commonly refers to adenocarcinoma), when in fact he had a form of neuroendocrine tumour of the pancreas.

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are one of more than one-hundred rare forms of cancer that, together, make up 40 percent of all cancers. A lack of knowledge and awareness about NETs, both within the medical profession and the wider public, means sufferers can go years before the disease is correctly identified. Some patients have lived with a form of NETs for up to seven years before being diagnosed. Often this is because typical symptoms such as; diarrhea, anxiety, asthma and irritable bowels, are assumed to be something else. The result is that by the time patients are correctly diagnosed life expectancy is usually only three years.

It is a cancer that warrants attention from the Australian media. There are currently eight-thousand known cases in Australia and another two-thousand patients expected to be diagnosed this year (a number higher than ovarian cancer).

On behalf of the only Australian charity supporting NET patients and the Australian research into NETs; I’d encourage Australians to take something positive from the passing of Jobs and ask their GP for a NETs screening if they recognise these symptoms – our aim is for the understanding of NET cancers to be on par with the current knowledge of MS and ovarian cancer in a decade.

by Simone Leyden, Elsternwick VIC

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