This week two visionaries, one in the world of technology, Steve Jobs, the soul of Apple, and another in health, Ralph Steinman, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine this Monday, have died as a result of cancers of pancreas.
In 2004, Steve Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET). This type of tumors is only diagnosed in approximately one percent of all pancreatic tumors, which in figures is in one out of every 100,000 people. In fact, it is generally said that when someone is said to have pancreatic cancer, it refers to an exocrine cancer, of which 95% are adenocarcinomas.
To understand us, the main difference between one type of cancer and another lies in the glands of the pancreas where the tumor is located: exocrine and endocrine. The first are responsible for producing what is known as pancreatic juice to the intestines, whose enzymes help us digest the fats, carbohydrates and proteins that we ingest with food. If they food could not be absorbed by the intestines. While the endocrine cells of the pancreas, which clump together in islets, secrete blood hormones such as insulin - reducing the amount of sugar in the blood - or the blood sugar - increases blood sugar.
This distinction between both types of cancer is important, since exocrines, which constitute the vast majority of cases, are quite aggressive and have a very poor prognosis - patients usually do not survive more than six months after the diagnosis, usually late, of a adenocarcinoma-, while the endocrine (the one suffering from Jobs) are more easily diagnosable, have a slower evolution and more possibilities of treatment.
In the same 2004, the co-founder of the brand of the apple, decided then to undergo different alternative therapies, but finally had to give in to the evidence and underwent an operation to remove the malignant cells of the damaged organ. After that the boss of Apple returned to work, but five years later he had to go through the operating room again because of a metastasis to have a liver transplant done at the Methodist University Hospital of Memphis.
Two years later Jobs has died surrounded by his own and having won the admiration of the entire planet for his impressive career leading one of the most powerful brands in the world that has changed forever the way we communicate and enjoy the leisure in our day to day.
For his part, Steinman died on Friday September 30 after surviving four years to another pancreatic tumor. He himself had designed the pioneering immunotherapy he was dealing with.
The efforts of the researchers are now focused on finding solutions to maximize the life of those affected by one of the most aggressive cancers that exist.