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Wednesday, March 05, 2008, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Fortune: Jobs hid cancer for nine months

In a controversial piece published by Fortune, for which Steve Jobs declined to comment, the business publication claims the Apple co-founder masked his battle with cancer for a full nine months before informing shareholders and anyone outside his most intimate of inner circles.

For those nine months, said Peter Elkind, the magazine's editor, Apple's board of directors secretly agonized over the situation, as they struggled to balance their moral responsibilities to both the company's investors and their chief executive's appeal for privacy.

According to the report, the board would ultimately decide to say nothing after seeking advice on its obligations from two outside lawyers, who agreed the matter could remain secret.

Jobs, as he would later reveal in an email to employees on August 1, 2004, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, or a malignant tumor within the pancreatic gland that often leads to a surefire death.

To his fortune, a biopsy in October of 2003 would reveal that he had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year.

"If the tumor were surgically removed, Jobs' prognosis would be promising," Elkind wrote. "The vast majority of those who underwent the operation survived at least ten years."

But to the dismay of the Board and those closest to him, Jobs is said to have considered never having the surgery at all. Not a proponent of modern day medicine, he reportedly decided "to employ alternative methods 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."


Jobs speaks openly about his battle with cancer at Stanford University in 2005.


In the end, Jobs would ultimately have the surgery, on Saturday, July 31, 2004, at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, near his home. But for the preceding nine months, "nary a word got out" and "no one learned just how long" he'd been sick, added Elkind, who goes on to scrutinize nearly every aspect of the Silicon Valley icon — and accuse him of putting investors at risk — in the piece titled, "The trouble with Steve Jobs."