On Sunday, longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott lost his battle with cancer.
In 2007, Scott was diagnosed with cancer of the appendix when was undergoing a routine appendectomy for appendicitis.
It is routine practice that when any tissue is removed from the body during surgery, that it is examined by a pathologist. In the case of Scott, cancer of the appendix was discovered.
Cancer of the appendix is very rare and affects only 600-1,000 Americans annually. There have been other famous people who have had cancer of the appendix, including Audrey Hepburn who died from the disease in 1993.
Cancer of the appendix is often very indolent and produces nearly no symptoms until the tumor is far advanced.
There are several types of cancer of the appendix and there are no known risk factors or environmental exposures that put people at risk for the disease. Treatment of appendiceal cancer involves surgery to remove the tumor and appendix and then chemotherapy and radiation treatments are often used as adjunct therapy.
Survival rates in patients with cancer of the appendix are very poor. The prognosis is often determined by the age and overall health of the patient and the time of diagnosis, the stage of the tumor and the extent of the spread of the disease.
Cancers that have spread beyond their original location are often far advanced and more difficult to treat. However, treatments continue to be developed and more research is needed.
Scott had his tumor removed at the time of diagnosis and then had several subsequent surgeries to remove other tumors during his multiple recurrences. His courage during his battle with cancer and his dedication to his family and his job should inspire us all.