On Sunday, January 4th, 2015, we lost Stuart Scott of ESPN fame to a rare type of cancer – appendiceal or appendix cancer. He was only 49. Stuart never gave up fighting after his initial cancer diagnosis in 2007 and two recurrences. He didn’t often mention his type of cancer but he briefly referenced it in an interview with Men’s Health magazine. Before Stuart Scott, I was aware of only one other celebrity, Audrey Hepburn, who battled with appendix cancer.
Stuart Scott’s cancer came to my attention after I watched his moving acceptance speech when he received a perseverance award from The V Foundation at the ESPYs earlier this year. His attitude was formidable.
“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.” – Stuart Scott
Stuart Scott, you are an inspiration to many and you definitely lived, as you so eloquently put it.
There are a few varieties of appendix cancer but even taken together as a whole, it is a “one in a million” type of cancer so research for this cancer is very limited.
How You Can Help
You can help by donating to organizations dedicated to funding research for appendix cancer. Here are some organizations where you can donate:
Here’s some info on appendix cancer from MD Anderson:
Appendix Cancer Facts
Appendix cancer is diagnosed in fewer than 1,000 Americans each year.
The appendix is part of the digestive system, and it is located close to where the large intestine and small intestine come together. Tumors in the appendix can be malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer).
Most cases of appendix cancer are found when a person has surgery for another condition. Almost half are found during surgery for acute appendicitis; others are discovered when an abdominal mass is seen during a CT scan for an unrelated condition.
The outcome for appendix cancer depends a great deal on the size of the tumor. When the tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters, the cancer is less likely to spread. However, when tumors are larger they generally require more aggressive treatment and are more dangerous.
Appendix Cancer Types
Appendix cancer is classified by the type of cells within the tumor. The main types are:
Carcinoid tumors: About half of appendix cancers are carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors are most often found in women in their 40s. Most carcinoid tumors are small, and they often can be treated successfully.
Non-carcinoid tumors: These tumors begin in the epithelial cells that line the inside of the appendix. Most epithelial cells produce mucin, a gelatinous material. These tumors have a tendency to spread, and the success of treatment depends on several factors.
Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP): Mucin within the abdomen has few tumor cells, but cells may spread outside the appendix into the abdomen.
Adenocarcinoid tumors, also known as goblet cell carcinomas, have characteristics similar to both carcinoid and adenocarcinoma tumors of the appendix. Most patients are diagnosed in their 50s.
Appendix Cancer Symptoms
Appendix cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is in an advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body. When symptoms are present, they vary from person to person and may include:
- Acute appendicitis: Most cases of appendix cancer are discovered during surgery for appendicitis
- Increase in abdomen size/girth, bloating
- Vague abdominal discomfort in the lower right abdomen
- Pelvic discomfort
- New hernias
- Bowel obstruction
- Ovarian masses
- Acute or chronic abdominal pain
To the few appendix cancer friends I have the privilege of knowing, here’s to living and fighting like hell!
To the few appendix cancer friends who are gone, your fighting spirit and dignity will always be with me.