Former ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott died Sunday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 49.
Scott was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer (cancer of the appendix) after he underwent an emergency appendectomy in 2007. An appendectomy is a surgical procedure to remove an inflamed and painful appendix. This condition is called appendicitis.
During the surgery, Scott’s doctors may have noticed a tumor in Scott’s appendix. The tumor tissue was sent to a lab to be tested for malignancy (cancer). After the cancer was confirmed, the tissue would be typed and staged to determine if the cancer had spread anywhere else in Scott’s body.
Cancer of the appendix is extremely rare, affecting only 600-1,000 Americans each year. The appendix is a small pouch-like organ at the beginning of the large intestine where the small intestine ends.
Doctors believe the appendix serves no useful purpose in the body. A long held theory is that the appendix is a holdover from prehistoric times. As humans evolved and our diets changed, the function of the appendix was no longer necessary.
Cancers of the appendix usually originate somewhere else in the body. Even though Scott’s appendix was removed in 2007, he suffered relapses of cancer in 2011, 2012 and again in 2013, because the cancer had already spread.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Signs and symptoms of cancer of the appendix includes:
Since cancer of the appendix is a slow-growing cancer, it is usually not diagnosed until the cancer is in advanced stages.
Cancer of the appendix is usually found during emergency surgery to remove the appendix after the patient develops appendicitis (pain and inflammation of the appendix). Chances of survival is best if the cancer is found in the early stages.
Treatment options are limited if the cancer is found late. Treatment includes removing the appendix and radiation or chemotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells. In some cases more surgery may be needed to remove the lining of the abdomen, called the peritoneum.
Sometimes doctors will infuse heated chemotherapy into the abdominal cavity to kill stray cancer cells and to prevent spread. This operation is followed with intravenous (IV) chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that spread throughout the body.
Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cancer cells and kills them. A side effect of chemotherapy is that it also targets other rapidly dividing cells such as skin cells and cells of the GI tract and bone marrow cells. As a result, the patient’s hair may fall out and/ or the patient will be more susceptible to infection.
In 2013, Scott was told his cancer was terminal and that he only had a short time to live. But rather than resign himself to his fate, Scott hit the gym and became more determined than ever to live for his 2 daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15.
“I can take this,” he said. “[I] deal with it easier than some people I see. So I think for the ones who can’t punch a heavy bag, can’t spar, who can’t do any of that. I’ll do it for you.”
During an emotional acceptance speech at the 2014 ESPY Awards in July, Scott said:
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
More info on the Web
Appendix Cancer – Cancer.net
Appendiceal Cancer – Shootoutcancer.org
Appendix Cancer – MedStar Health
Stuart Scott’s Death Highlights a Rare Form of Cancer – Sportsgrid.com
Graphic: CD Dollaz