“Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit ’90s sitcom, died Monday after a three-week fight in the hospital, according to his representatives. He was 44.
Since the show, Diamond has appeared on numerous show, wrote a book, produced shows and more.
The cause of death was carcinoma, his rep, Roger Paul, told The Hollywood Reporter. The actor was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma cancer, commonly referred to as lung cancer, three weeks ago and was receiving treatments at a Florida hospital.
“In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution,” Paul said in a statement. “Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
While we are learning about Diamond’s medical history, we do know that African-American men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the U.S.
What is small cell carcinoma cancer?
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer, according to the NHS, with approximately 47,000 people diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.
Cancer that begins in the lungs is called primary lung cancer and there are two main forms of primary lung cancer determined by the type of cells in which the cancer starts growing.
Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – This is the most common form, accounting for more than 87% of cases, according to the NHS. It can be one of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma.
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) – This is the type Diamond is reported to have suffered from. It is less common than non-small-cell lung cancer and usually spreads faster. According to Cancer Research UK, around 15 to 20 out of every 100 lung cancers diagnosed are this type. It is usually caused by smoking. These cancers tend to spread quite early on.
Cancer Research UK says small-cell lung cancers are also classed as neuroendocrine tumors. “Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are rare tumors that develop in cells of the neuroendocrine system,” the site explains. “In small cell lung cancer, the tumor starts in the neuroendocrine cells of the lung.”
Neuroendocrine cells are present in most of our organs. They make the hormones that control how our bodies work. For instance, the neuroendocrine cells of the lung make hormones that control the flow of air and blood.
The type of lung cancer a patient has determines which treatments are recommended.
Symptoms of small-cell lung cancer
There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but according to the NHS many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including:
- a persistent cough
- coughing up blood
- persistent breathlessness
- unexplained tiredness and weight loss
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.
If you have these symptoms, talk to your health care provider.
Symptoms of NETs caused by hormones
Cancer Research UK say some types of lung NETs make hormones that go into the bloodstream, which can cause symptoms that don’t seem related to the cancer. The symptoms might include:
Flushing of the skin
A fast heartbeat.
Doctors call this collection of symptoms carcinoid syndrome and it is more likely to occur if the lung NET has spread to other parts of the body, particularly the liver.