The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin sadly died of neuroendocrine cancer (NETs) of the pancreas, the very same cancer that killed Apple founder Steve Jobs and takes the life of thousands of people each year. Neuroendocrine cancer is a type of cancer that is very different to the more common pancreatic cancer.
As announced in a family statement, Aretha Franklin passed away in her home in Detroit on August 16th. It was stated that Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Pancreatic cancer and pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer are two very distinct cancers with distinct behaviors that originate in different types of cells in the pancreas. As such they have different symptoms and outcomes for patients.
An often misdiagnosed form of cancer in the medical industry (and sometimes in the media too), neuroendocrine tumours are commonly located in the pancreas, lungs, abdomen, reproductive organs and bowel. Symptoms can include weight loss, hot flushes, shortness of breath and diarrhoea, the disease is frequently misdiagnosed with other conditions such as anxiety, menopause, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or diabetes.
Simone Leyden, INCA President and CEO of the Unicorn Foundation Australia says:
“Our NETs community has been saddened to hear of the loss of Aretha Franklin. Another beautiful soul has been lost to NETs, may Aretha RIP. As neuroendocrine cancer affects hundreds of thousands of patients across the world, we need to raise awareness around this frequently overlooked disease and make sure people are familiar with the symptoms.”
The International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance (INCA) consists of 20 patient advocacy and research groups and supports NET patients (and their families) by advocating on their behalf to improve diagnosis, care and research globally.