NEW YORK – Apple Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, whose recovery from pancreatic cancer appeared less certain when he had to take medical leave in January, received a liver transplant two months ago but is recovering well, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The newspaper didn’t reveal a source for the report, which comes as Jobs, 54, is expected back in his day-to-day duties at the company shortly.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the Associated Press he had no comment. Dowling reiterated what has become Apple’s standard line about Jobs’ health, that “Steve continues to look forward to returning to Apple at the end of June and there is nothing further to say.”
Few CEOs are considered as instrumental to their companies as Jobs has been to Apple since he returned in 1997 after a 12-year hiatus. With Jobs serving as head showman and demanding elegance in product design, Apple has expanded from a niche computer maker to become the dominant producer of portable music players and a huge player in the cell phone business. News and rumors about his health send Apple stock soaring or plunging.
Jobs disclosed in August 2004 that he had been diagnosed with – and cured of – a rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.
It’s likely that Jobs had part or all of his pancreas removed to treat his cancer in 2004, said Dr. Lewis Teperman, vice chair of surgery and director of transplantation at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
After the pancreas, the liver is the “next stop” for a tumor since blood drains from the one organ to the other, said Teperman, who did not treat Jobs.
Since the type of pancreatic cancer Jobs had is “slow-growing,” it’s likely microscopic cells went undetected and traveled to the liver, Teperman said. Tumors often stop at the liver, he said, although it’s possible they can spread beyond it.
The risk for liver cancer patients who get transplants is that the cancer will return in the new liver.