Steve Jobs tried everything from exotic diets to cutting-edge treatments in brave battle with cancer

“In his last years, Steven P. Jobs veered from exotic diets to cutting-edge treatments as he fought the cancer that ultimately took his life, according to a new biography to be published on Monday,” Steve Lohr reports for The New York Times. “A copy of the book was obtained by The New York Times before it officially went on sale.”

“His early decision to put off surgery and rely instead on fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments — some of which he found on the Internet — infuriated and distressed his family, friends and physicians, the book says,” Lohr reports. “From the time of his first diagnosis in October 2003, until he received surgery in July 2004, he kept his condition largely private — secret from Apple employees, executives and shareholders, who were misled.”

MacDailyNews Take: Seriously? Were people “misled” or were they just not privy to a man’s private health information? Lohr should stick to reporting and refrain from making judgements.

“Friends, family members and physicians spoke to Mr. Isaacson openly about Mr. Jobs’s illness and his shifting strategy for managing it. According to Mr. Isaacson, Mr. Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000,” Lohr reports. “Mr. Jobs put off surgery for nine months, a fact first reported in 2008 in Fortune magazine. Friends and family, including his sister, Mona Simpson, urged Mr. Jobs to have surgery and chemotherapy.”

“When he did take the path of surgery and science, Mr. Jobs did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense, pushing the frontiers of new treatments. According to Mr. Isaacson, once Mr. Jobs decided on the surgery and medical science, he became an expert — studying, guiding and deciding on each treatment. Mr. Isaacson said Mr. Jobs made the final decision on each new treatment regimen,” Lohr reports. “The DNA sequencing that Mr. Jobs ultimately went through was done by a collaboration of teams at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT. The sequencing, Mr. Isaacson writes, allowed doctors to tailor drugs and target them to the defective molecular pathways.”

Lohr reports, “A doctor told Mr. Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first ‘to outrun a cancer like this’” or be among the last ‘to die from it.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Steve Jobs via Apple’s iBookstore (U.S.16.99) here: Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Steve Jobs: ‘I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product; I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this’ – October 20, 2011
Steve Jobs told Obama: ‘You’re headed for a one-term presidency’ – October 20, 2011
Biographer: Steve Jobs refused early and potentially life-saving surgery for nine months (with video) – October 20, 2011


  1. I don’t know whether quacks are evil, or hopelessly, irredeemably stupid. I do know that they harm in the name of help – that which they accuse medical doctors of doing. Many cancers that were unsurvivable a decade or two ago can now be routinely and successfully treated with modern medicine.

    Scientific medicine may not be perfect, but no quack has ever cured anybody of anything, much less cancer. They’ll credit a remission that would have happened anyway to their friggin’ herbs, silver preparations, noni juice, and wtf-ever, and use that “success” to convince very sick people to waste their precious time with their batshit “therapies.” Gawd, I hate quacks.

  2. @ Mac Daddy

    You REALLY need to do some – or a lot – of reading on:
    – the actual success rates of cancer treatment… which is pathetic. Cancer’s so-call success rates are standardly couched in relative terms rather than absolute because it sounds so much better – e.g. “you will have a 50% improvement in chance of survival” rather than “your chance of survival will go up from 2% to 3%”.
    – where a lot of medicine comes from
    – how pioneers were often treated at first.
    One very simple example — it is now routine to have heart patients get back to exercise immediately, rather than the prolonged bed rest that was the norm, only a short time ago. It is also banal to say that prevention of heart disease and recovery from it are both massively dependent on diet and other lifestyle choices — again not even considered by “medicine” until recently. Talking about nutrition was consider batshit hippy nonsense not long ago. Now it’s mainstream medicine. Medicine is always changing, always learning. Rather than dismiss everything not CURRENTLY in mainstream medicine, and thinking it has a 100% lock on what is true and useful, you’d be wise to examine it and see what works and what doesn’t. Do you apply the same close-mindedness to physics, engineering, car design, business, economics — thinking that what is currently the “establishment” of that field has all the answers?

    1. @Seamus

      Please don’t make your “argument” by making up statistics – some cancers are VERY curable, others less.

      As with all cancers, “cure” rates for prostate cancer describe the percentage of patients likely remaining disease-free for a specific time. In general, the earlier the cancer is caught, the more likely it is for the patient to remain disease-free.

      Because approximately 90% of all prostate cancers are detected in the local and regional stages, the cure rate for prostate cancer is very high—nearly 100% of men diagnosed at this stage will be disease-free after five years. By contrast, in the 1970s, only 67% of men diagnosed with local or regional prostate cancer were disease-free after five years.

      The importance of diet has been recognized a LONG time ago – where you get your “information” from is beyond me.

      You are right about the heart patients – but in this case the recommendations were not based on science but “common sense” which unfortunately is very often wrong.

      1. P.S. Just to make this clear: the prostate cancer rates are an example for a VERY treatable cancer – Steve had pancreatic cancer which is much less curable.

        The pancreatic cancer stage plays a role in the pancreatic cancer prognosis. Based on historical data:

        7 percent of pancreas cancer cases are diagnosed while the cancer is still confined to the primary site (localized stage)

        26 percent of pancreas cancer cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes or directly beyond the primary site

        52 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed after the cancer has already metastasized (distant stage)

        14 percent of pancreatic cancer cases had staging information that was unknown.

        The corresponding five-year relative survival rates were:

        16.4 percent for localized
        7.0 percent for regional
        1.8 percent for distant

        So if you have pancreatic cancer get it out as quickly as possible!

        1. P.P.S Later – when he knew much more about what cancer actually is – Steve very much regretted not getting surgery immediately.

          The problem is that for a medicine to be approved it has to go through several increasingly stringent trials – but anyone can just scrape some bark from a tree and sell it as a “health supplement” without ever either proving its effective in any way or even just showing it does no harm (as it is “natural”).

          So it is no wonder that there are literally thousands of scam artists calling themselves experts and promising “cures” for anything – just because they do not call it snake oil anymore doesn’t make it any more effective.

          1. “The problem is that for a medicine to be approved it has to go through several increasingly stringent trials”

            Oh i’m pretty sure Vioxx and Prozac went through INCREASINGLY STRINGENT TRIALS.

            If you don’t know anything much about how drugs are approved by FDA, don’t use the words “increasingly stringent trials” or you’ll start looking like a clown.

            The stringent trials that you mention are mostly conducted by people who are funded by the pharmaceutical companies themselves. While the so called “peer review” committee members are cut from the same cloth.

            Medical Science of today doesn’t resemble any science at all, it has turned into a religion once the pharmaceutical companies funded the pockets of your politicians and medical societies.

    2. Totally agree with you.

      A lot of these people think they know enough considering the don’t have an idea where these synthetic medicines are actually derived/copied from. Majority of these drugs are synthesized/derived from natural occurring sources. Classic examples would be the same “herbs”, “barks of tree”, “silver” that they say are quacks.

      People who do not look back at history never learn their lesson.

  3. Our brain is the best pattern recognition machine on the planet. It even looks for patterns and connections when there are none – and once a pattern is established it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just look at sportsmen doing some ritual before a game because they did it once and won, so they do it again and they won, so they keep doing it because it “obviously” helps them winning even if they loose. Now the weird thing is if they forget to do the ritual they expect to loose – and usually do.

    Unfortunately the same applies to more serious matters like health. Our immune system is incredibly good at fighting of even cancer – new antibody specificities are produced all the time, so there is a chance that one fits the cancerous cells and marks them for destruction which results in spontaneous remission – most remarkable in people that are in the end stages of cancer (and stupidly that is taken as “proof” that conventional medicine is just wrong … looking for “patterns” again).

    But as people look for patterns, and you can’t see a pattern in your antibodies – it must be that they drank more fruit juice than usual that is “responsible”. Or that herb they chewed.

    EVERY double-blind study (where neither doctor nor patient knows which one is the medicine and which one the placebo) has revealed that “alternative medicine” doesn’t work. It might feel good to have a sympathetic ear, a warm personality “really listening” to you, inspiring trust and hope – but that are also the characteristics of every good con man.

    1. Sorry Markus- you are flat out, absolutely wrong about double- blind studies and “alternative medicine”. The approach of considering the patient as actually a integrated whole and treating as such has been validated time and time again. There are many questionable approaches in any field (ie please cite the EVIDENCE that treating modestly elevated cholesterol has ANY benefit in CV event risk, or the advantages of Progestin over bio identical progesterone, or…well I could go on but you get the point).

      Functional Medicine is a superior approach to enhancing wellness and treating disease. It does NOT eschew traditional treatments when validated, but augments and supports them.

    2. “EVERY double-blind study (where neither doctor nor patient knows which one is the medicine and which one the placebo) has revealed that “alternative medicine” doesn’t work. It might feel good to have a sympathetic ear, a warm personality “really listening” to you, inspiring trust and hope – but that are also the characteristics of every good con man.”

      Care to cite a double blinded study/trial that proves alternative medicine doesn’t work where conventional medicine is proven to work? Who funded the study? Who conducted the study? Aren’t these researchers not funded by the same pharmaceutical company whose drugs they are trying to prove?

      I’m curious as to what theses studies are.

      Statin drugs were “proven” to lower cholesterol, does it lower the incidence of heart failures in America? NO. Heart failure is still one of the leading killers, if not the leader, of American even if a lot of them are taking on statin drugs like they are cheese sticks. Statin drugs actually shoot up your blood pressure that you need to take another medicine to control the blood pressure.

  4. It must be frustrating to MDN that they can’t delete any opinions they don’t like beyond these forums.

    i agree that jobs did not “mislead” anyone. i don’t care if anyone else thinks he did.

    1. “How are you today?”

      “I’m fine.”

      “You dont look fine. Why did you go see the doctor today?”

      “It was nothing, I’m O.K.”

      The above scenario happens everyday by all of us. It is intentional misleading. No doubt SJ misled his loved ones and associates. It’s human nature.

      The book will tell.

  5. The decision to reply on acupuncture, herbal and other things is very strange, but Jobs’ mentally was always very strange, unusual, “think different”. But he himself admitted that thinking different does not always make you “thinking right”, even though for him it was so most of the time. So this was part of genius, two sides of the coin: being really right or really wrong.

    If some of scientific medicine methods Jobs tried will have positive result in the future, then he fought for people that might suffer from the same decease after him to their great benefit. Lets hope the science will advance in that direction.

  6. Jobs to medical science:
    “Do you want to change the world for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and take sugar water?”

    Here’s to the dumb ones…

  7. Everyone is an expert on the past. Easy to judge the past mistakes we make but just as easy to make them. There is an over confidence in medicine as well as quackery. Taking a pill to avoid a heart attack rather than change our diet, stop smoking to avoid lung cancer, take out excess sugar to avoid diabetes, exercise to maintain a healthy body, etc… MD’s rarely promotes healthy lifestyles. Why? They have one measly course on diet in their requisite schooling. They are uneducated in the field. People are dying mostly from their “lifestyles” and occasionally from their beliefs. I see a lot of judgement concerning Job’s death but it is common to die from the way that we live.

  8. “MacDailyNews Take: Seriously? …Lohr should stick to reporting and refrain from making judgements.”

    MDN’s heading:
    “Steve Jobs tried everything from exotic diets to cutting-edge treatments in brave battle with cancer”

    Brave? The article doesn’t mention ‘brave’ anywhere. Jobs paid the ultimate price for his abject stupidity. Depriving his family of their loved one. And depriving the world of his inventiveness.

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