An old ethical principle holds that we ought not speak ill of the dead. After all, they can’t defend themselves. That rule is getting kicked around quite a bit just a week after the death of Steve Jobs.
Tabloids and bloggers, citing cancer experts who never treated Jobs and have no access to his medical information, are speculating that Jobs “doomed” himself with alternative medicine.
After Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003, he allegedly delayed surgery to remove the tumor -- the conventional treatment -- for nine months.
During that time, he also -- allegedly -- attempted treat his cancer with alternative medicine and diet, some news reports claim.
That choice, the headlines proclaim, may have cost him his life by letting his cancer grow and spread.
In a detailed post to Quora, an online forum popular among the Silicon Valley crowd, Harvard cancer doc Dr. Ramzi Amri wrote:
Let me cut to the chase: Mr. Jobs allegedly chose to undergo all sorts of alternative treatment options before opting for conventional medicine.
This was, of course, a freedom he had all the rights to take, but given the circumstances it seems sound to assume that Mr. Jobs' choice for alternative medicine could have led to an unnecessarily early death.
There are some major holes in this kind of speculation from Monday-morning medical analysts.
For one, reports that Jobs rejected mainstream medical advice after his diagnosis remain unconfirmed. Very few people know exactly what Jobs chose to do when he found out he had cancer. None of them are blogging.
Plus, Jobs lived eight years after his diagnosis with a neuroendocrine tumor. As MyHealthNewsDaily explained today, the average life expectancy for someone with a metastatic neuroendocrine tumor is about two years, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. (It’s unclear when Jobs cancer turned metastatic.)
It’s fair to assume that a person of his means and intelligence could access any and all expertise that existed to decide how best to try and fight his disease.
Beyond that, it just doesn’t do anybody any good to guess or gossip.