THURSDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- One of the hallmarks of Steve Jobs' tenure as CEO of Apple Inc. was the secrecy that shrouded products he was about to unveil -- from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad -- creating tremendous consumer interest.
Jobs' announcement Wednesday night that he was stepping down as the head of the hugely successful technology company he co-founded in a northern California garage 35 years ago was similarly thin on details, although speculation immediately turned to his ongoing health problems.
In a letter to Apple's board, the 56-year-old Jobs said he "always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."
This much is known about the health of Jobs, a legendarily private man: Since 2004, he has been fighting a rare form of pancreatic cancer called neuroendocrine cancer. In January, he took his second medical leave from Apple after undergoing a liver transplant for tumors that had spread to that organ.
Pancreatic cancer expert Dr. Craig Devoe, from the department of medicine at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said that "neuroendocrine tumors are uncommon, with only a few thousand cases a year."
For those that affect the pancreas, the numbers are even lower with fewer than 1,000 cases a year in the United States. In contrast, there are around 40,000 cases of other pancreatic cancers a year, Devoe said.
Dr. David M. Levi, a professor of clinical surgery, liver and GI transplantation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said neuroendocrine cancer "is an unusual tumor. It can arise in a number of places, including the pancreas." Such tumors can also start in the lungs.
It's one of the few tumors that can benefit -- to some extent -- from a transplant, Levi said. J
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