Frucht said hormonal imbalances are not rare in patients with a neuroendocrine tumor, and these symptoms can resurface years after these tumors are removed. And he concurred that if indeed Jobs had suffered from a neuroendocrine tumor, the treatment for rebalancing his hormone levels would likely be a simple matter.
"Probably up to 60 percent of patients with a biochemical cure after surgery -- all hormone levels are normal and no tumor on imaging -- will have a recurrence of hormone excess production," he said. "Treatment would be simple -- medical treatment to treat the manifestations of excess hormone production."
However, Dr. Anne Peters, director of USC clinical diabetes programs, said it is still possible that Jobs underwent a Whipple procedure, the operation most often performed for the most common form of pancreatic cancer. And she said the downstream effects of this procedure can also lead to weight loss, as the operation normally removes the tissue responsible for producing important digestive enzymes.
"Life after a Whipple is difficult, because these hormones and enzymes need to be replaced, and often the treatments aren't quite as good as the body's own production of them," she said. "My post-Whipple patients tend to be thin, and have to work hard to maintain adequate nutrition."
She added that the treatment for this type of lingering condition are also straightforward, though they must be maintained for life.