Stuart Scott’s Death Highlights A Rare And Tragic Form Of Cancer
Considering how public Stuart Scott was about his battle with cancer, which ended today when the SportsCenter anchor passed away at 49, surprisingly little is known about what exactly he was facing and how high the odds were stacked against him.
Scott was first diagnosed with cancer back in 2007. He beat it. Then it returned in 2011. He beat it again. It returned a third time in 2013, and this time it proved too much for a guy who would do P90X or MMA training just minutes after chemotherapy sessions, to keep his mental edge. But what exactly was Scott fighting?
Some outlets have reported that Scott never revealed the exact type of cancer he was fighting, which is false -- but for years he was cagey about the details. When the New York Times did a profile on Scott and how he coped with the disease, he would only say that his cancer had not spread beyond where it was found, and that it was not colon cancer. He wouldn't let a doctor speak about his condition either. Finally, in an article for Men's Health Scott wrote that he had appendiceal cancer, a "very rare form" of the disease.
Indeed, appendiceal cancer is extremely rare, affecting 600-1,000 Americans each year, just a fraction of the millions of diagnosed cases. One type of appendix cancer is a gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor, which are more common in African Americans than in other races, and slightly more common in women than in men. Outcomes are "not as good" for African Americans, and researchers don't yet know why. More than 85 percent of patients with carcinoid tumors of the appendix have a five-year survival rate -- Scott lived more than seven years past his original diagnosis.
We've been in touch with the PMP Research Foundation, which noted that Stuart likely had high-grade appendiceal adenocarcinoma, another type of tumor that is more often treated with the kind of systemic chemotherapy Stuart underwent. This tumor often leads to pseudomyxoma peritonei, which is uniformly fatal without treatment. The risk factors for PMP are currently unknown.
As with most diseases, timely diagnosis is critical, as is the "Standard of Care" treatment now available: cytoreductive surgery plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (CRS/HIPEC). (For more information on this treatment, which has provided hope to what was formerly a sure death sentence, visit PMPCure.org.)
Did Scott do anything to increase his risk for this rare disease? Probably not: Your chance of getting it doesn't appear to be increased or decreased by any specific foods; smoking "may" increase the chance for a small intestine tumor, but as far as we can tell, Scott didn't smoke. It was, in all likelihood, genetic -- a simple twist of fate.
Before Scott, the most famous public figure to die from cancer of the appendix was probably Audrey Hepburn in 1993. The rarity of the disease has contributed to a dearth of needed research. More information on GI carcinoid tumors can be found here.
Scott seemed to know that this latest battle with cancer was different. From his Men's Health article:
It recently came back a third time. To be honest, I'm scared. I've always been afraid of cancer, but this time feels different. My confidence is shaken. I'm a little more vulnerable, a little more aware of my mortality, a little more uncertain about my future...
In 20 years I'd like to be retired, living somewhere warm near a golf course. But cancer makes that feel a little less realistic. I still believe in it, but now I'm not so sure.
So every other Monday, I keep going to the gym. I keep firing up the P90X. I keep working out, even when the chemo makes me want to just give up. That's because working out is my way of saying to cancer, "You're trying to invade my body; you're trying to take me away from my daughters, but I'm stronger than you. And I'm going to hit harder than you. I know you're going to hit back just as hard, and I know sometimes you're going to knock me down. But I'm going to get up, and I'm going to kick your ass."
After a really great workout, sometimes I even believe it.
That's the real tragedy of this disease: Scott fought it as hard and as long as anyone possibly could. He said all the right things, he did all the right things, and while he had everything to live for -- particularly his two daughters, Taelor and Sydni -- he still wasn't able to overcome.
NOW: Read our continuing coverage of Scott's untimely death and how many across the sports world are remembering him.
- Colin Cowherd on the racism Stuart Scott faced as an African-American SportsCenter anchor
- Stephen A. Smith on Scott's lesser-known battle with vision issues
- Rich Eisen's moving tribute to Stuart Scott on The NFL Network
- Sunday NFL Countdown eulogizes Stuart Scott
Photo via Getty
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Betting Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.