'Jobs is terminal' diagnosis is based on nothing

It might be true, but you'd never know from the evidence

It's not coming from anyone with personal knowledge of the case, so take it with a grain of salt.

But news outlets in England and the U.S. are reporting that Steve Jobs has lost an alarming amount of weight and may be terminal.

The primary report comes from the National Enquirer, renowned for both ridiculously inaccurate gossip and for digging up stories other news outlets ridiculed before admitting the Enquirer was correct.

In this case the Enquirer took pictures of Jobs leaving the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, Calif., where he's being treated for pancreatic cancer.

Enquirer reporters took photos of Jobs looking thin and frail to a critical-care physician who has never examined Jobs and has no knowledge of the case other than the photos.

That worthy described Jobs as "close to terminal" and guessed he might have six weeks left.

That might be accurate, but there's no real indication that it is.

Chemotherapy, very common treatment for pancreatic cancer, often causes patients to lose dramatic amounts of weight.

The six-foot-two-inch Jobs is thin anyway, so any additional loss would look dramatic.

Jobs is apparently well enough to go through with a scheduled meeting with Barack Obama, who is touring Intel and Silicon Valley.

He also just began an ambitious renovation of his "historic mansion" in Toney Woodside Calif. that involves tearing the old one down and building a new one.

He's been fighting 10 years for the right to tear down the old house, so it's possible the project wouldn't stop no matter what his condition, or that he's deep in denial about his real condition.

On the other hand, terminal cancer patients don't often start major, long-term reconstruction projects, and grainy photos of a fully dressed patient in motion are not a lot on which to base a real diagnosis.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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