Had Steve Jobs nog geleefd als hij geen alternatieve therapieën had gebruikt?

Het antwoord: waarschijnlijk wel.

De door mij zeer bewonderde visionair Steve Jobs overleed op 5 oktober 2011. Hoewel er geen officiële doodsoorzaak werd genoemd overleed hij vermoedelijk aan alvleesklierkanker die in 2003 tijdens een routine scan werd ontdekt:

During a routine abdominal scan, doctors had discovered a tumor growing in his pancreas. While a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is often tantamount to a swiftly executed death sentence, a biopsy revealed that Jobs had a rare – and treatable – form of the disease. If the tumor were surgically removed, Jobs’ prognosis would be promising: The vast majority of those who underwent the operation survived at least ten years.

Helaas besloot Steve geen operatie te ondergaan maar in plaats daarvan een alternatief dieet te gaan volgen:

Yet to the horror of the tiny circle of intimates in whom he’d confided, Jobs was considering not having the surgery at all. A Buddhist and vegetarian, the Apple CEO was skeptical of mainstream medicine. Jobs decided to employ alternative methods [9 maanden lang] to treat his pancreatic cancer, hoping to avoid the operation through a special diet – a course of action that hasn’t been disclosed until now.

Ik heb met het Amerikaanse Pancreatic Cancer Action Network gebeld (op het moment van schrijven is er in Nederland niets meer open) en zij wisten mij te vertellen dat over een dieet ter behandeling van alvleesklierkanker niets in de medische wereld bekend is.

Brian Dunning, van de Skeptoid podcast en Here Be Dragons schrijft op het Skepticblog:

Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and always terminal, but Steve was lucky (if you can call it that) and had a rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is actually quite treatable with excellent survival rates — if caught soon enough. The median survival is about a decade, but it depends on how soon it’s removed surgically. Steve caught his very early, and should have expected to survive much longer than a decade. Unfortunately Steve relied on a naturopathic diet instead of early surgery. There is no evidence that diet has any effect on islet cell carcinoma. As he dieted for nine months, the tumor progressed, and took him from the high end to the low end of the survival rate.

Hij sluit af met:

We can’t say for sure that Steve would still be alive and making lives better were it not for the alternative therapy, but the statistics suggest it very strongly. If you insist on unproven therapies, fine; but also try the proven ones. Nobody likes to either write or read a post such as this one.

Ik heb opgezocht hoe waarschijnlijk het is dat Jobs nog geleefd zou hebben en ik vond dit onderzoek, hieronder de abstract:

A total of 1310 (619 women and 691 men) cases with a median age of 59 years were identified. The annual age-adjusted incidence in the periods covered by SEER 9 (1973–1991), SEER 13 (1992–1999), and SEER 17 (2000–2003) were .16, .14, and .12 per 100,000, respectively. The estimated 28-year limited duration prevalence on January 1, 2003, in the United States was 2705 cases. Classified by SEER stage, localized, regional, and distant stages corresponded to 14%, 23%, and 54% of cases. The median survival was 38 months. By stage, median survival for patients with localized, regional, and distant disease were 124 (95% CI, 80–168) months, (95% CI, 54–86) months, and 23 (95% CI, 20–26) months, respectively. By multivariate Cox proportional modeling, stage (P < .001), primary tumor location (P = .04), and age at diagnosis (P < .001) were found to be significant predictors of survival.

Oftewel: de mediaan lag op 124 maanden = 10 jaar, met een range van 80-168 maanden. De laatste zin geeft aan welke factoren van invloed zijn op de uitkomst: tumorlocatie en leeftijd. Over de locatie is mij niets bekend, maar qua leeftijd was Jobs met zijn 56 aan de jonge kant (de piek van deze vorm van kanker ligt tussen de 65 en 69 jaar) en voor zijn leeftijdscategorie (<59) was zelfs bijna 80% na 120 maanden nog in leven (zie het onderzoek). Maar die cijfers kloppen alleen wanneer je je regulier laat behandelen, in dit geval door middel van een operatie.