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The Globe and Mail

Steve Jobs delayed surgery that might have saved him: biographer

A photo of Steve Jobs is shown under notes written from supporters outside of an Apple store in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Apple closed a number of its stores for a memorial service for co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs.

Jeff Chiu/Jeff Chiu/AP

Steve Jobs initially turned down surgery for the cancer that eventually killed him, choosing to go with alternative medicine, his official biographer says.

In an interview with the CBS TV show 60 Minutes airing Sunday, Walter Isaacson explains how the Apple co-founder had one of the rare slow-growing pancreatic cancers that might have been cured with early surgery. Instead, Mr. Isaacson says, Mr. Jobs tried to treat it first with diet and "spiritualists," waiting nine months to get the surgery.

"Soon everybody is telling him, 'Quit trying to treat it with all these herbs and vegetables and things, just got operated on,'" explained Mr. Isaacson, who conducted 40 interviews with Mr. Jobs, who was 56 years old when he died earlier this month. The biography will be released on Monday.

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A top cancer doctor at Harvard Medical School has said that Mr. Jobs would likely be alive today if he hadn't put off conventional medical treatment. Quoting from an online forum for Silicon Valley executives, the Daily Mail reported Ramzi Amri as saying that Mr. Jobs's type of cancer was not usually fatal and delaying surgery, "eventually led to an unnecessary early death."

When asked by Mr. Isaacson why he initially declined surgery, the technology guru reportedly told the author, "I didn't want my body to be opened. I didn't want to be violated in that way."

Ultimately, Mr. Jobs went on to have the surgery and a liver transplant in 2009. But delaying the operation became something he regretted.

As Mr. Isaacson told 60 Minutes, "I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking."

Would you explore alternative treatments before undergoing surgery?

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