ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott Dead at 49

Longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, 49,  has died after a long battle with cancer of the appendix.

Known for his enthusiastic style, Scott also coined a bevy of catchphrases including his signature “Boo-Yah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow.”

Scott was first diagnosed in 2007, when cancerous cells were discovered in his appendix, after its removal during an emergency appendectomy. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy and went into remission. It recurred in 2011, and once again was treated and went into remission.

It returned for the third time in 2013. Scott underwent a total of 58 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and extensive abdominal surgery, including having his colon resected (removed). Despite this, he continued to work at ESPN and to work-out, “using mixed martial arts and high-intensity cross-training workouts to restore the energy that chemotherapy saps from him.”

Throughout this period, Scott never asked what stage his cancer was, telling the New York Times in March 2014:

“I never ask what stage I’m in. I haven’t wanted to know. It won’t change anything to me. All I know is that it would cause more worry and a higher degree of freakout. Stage 1, 2 or 8, it doesn’t matter. I’m trying to fight it the best I can.”

In July, Scott was given the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPN Awards for his courageous fight against cancer. In that speech he said:

stu scott tweet

What is the appendix?

vermiform_appendixThe appendix is a hollow pouch, about the size and shape of your little finger, which hangs off of  the large intestine, and in located in the right lower part of the abdomen. The function of the appendix is unknown and its removal does not seem to cause any harm to a person’s health.

What is cancer of the appendix?

Cancer of the appendix is a rare form of cancer, seen in less than 1000 Americans each year. The cause of appendix cancer is unknown, and no avoidable risk factors have been identified.

There are several forms of appendiceal cancer:

Carcinoid tumor

Approximately two-thirds of all appendix tumors are carcinoid tumors. A carcinoid tumor starts in the hormone-producing cells that are normally present in small amounts in almost every organ in the body. A carcinoid tumor in the appendix most often occurs at its tip. This type of cancer usually causes no symptoms until it has spread to other organs and often goes unnoticed until it is found during an examination or procedure performed for another reason.

Mucinous cystadenocarcinoma

Mucinous cystadenocarcinoma is the most common non-carcinoid appendix tumor and is seen in about 20% of appendix cancer cases. This type of tumor produces a jelly-like substance called mucin that can fill the abdominal cavity and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel function if the tumor breaks through the appendix or grows in the abdomen.

Colonic-type adenocarcinom

Colonic-type adenocarcinoma accounts for about 10% of appendix tumors and usually occurs at the base of the appendix. This type of tumor looks and behaves like the most common type of colorectal cancer. It often goes unnoticed, and a diagnosis is frequently made during or after surgery for appendicitis.

What are the symptoms of cancer of the appendix?

Many cases of cancer of the appendix remain asymptomatic until they are discovered when a person has surgery for another condition. Almost half are found during surgery for appendicitis. Sometimes they are discovered as part of an abdominal mass found on a CT scan or MRI done for an unrelated condition.

Symptoms can include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling bloated
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

How is cancer of the appendix treated?

Like many other cancers, the prognosis for appendiceal cancer depends on the size of the tumor when it is discovered. Tumors less than an inch in size are less likely to have spread. Larger tumors must be treated more aggressively. They may be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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