Doctors Speculate About Jobs' Health

Pancreatic cancer experts say the Apple CEO's health ailments puzzle them.
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Updated from 3:25 p.m. ESTPancreatic cancer experts say it's unclear whether Apple (AAPL) - Get Report CEO Steve Jobs' health ailments are related to a previous bout with cancer, according to Reuters.

A week after Jobs announced a "hormone imbalance" was to blame for his thin frame, the iconic CEO issued a second letter describing his condition as a "more complex" affair that would necessitate a leave of absence.

In 2004, Jobs was treated for a rare type of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Roderich Schwarz, a cancer surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, told

Reuters

that although pancreatic tumors are easy to remove,they recur in about half of patients.

Dr. Clay Semenkovich, an endocrinologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told

Reuters

: "(Jobs) may have a new mass that's substantially altering his physiology and causing him to lose weight."

Semenkovich said that a tumor in the pancreas could lead to weight loss and a hormone imbalance but that it was impossible to know that without seeing the hard data.

That said, Jobs' previous cancer treatment, and not a recurrence, could explain his thinness. The Whipple procedure, which Jobs had in 2004, can cause weight loss because a reduced pancreas has a harder time digesting fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Jobs has said his leave will last through June. Semenkovich told

Reuters

that if Jobs needs new surgery, six months is a reasonable time for preparation, surgery and recovery, given his weight loss. "Surgery in somebody who has lost a lot of weight is a risk," and recovery could take longer, he said.

On Friday,

Bloomberg

reported that sources close to the situation said Jobs was considering a liver transplant, though Jobs declined to comment in a phone interview with

Bloomberg

.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.