Dustin Diamond Dead From Lung Cancer at 44. What Is The Prognosis for SCLC?

Dustin Diamond, who rose to fame in the 1990s for his role as Samuel “Screech” Powers on the hit television show “Saved By The Bell,” has passed away due to lung cancer.

The news was first announced by TMZ, who reported that Diamond, 44, died from his illness on Monday morning after his condition took a significant turn for the worse. He was reportedly removed from breathing machines “in an attempt to get him to hospice care,” and he died with his girlfriend by his side, according to the report.

When Diamond’s diagnosis of stage 4 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) was first reported just a few weeks ago, it was shared that the actor developed cancer in a different area of his body and it metastasized in his lungs. It remains unclear where the cancer initiated. He recently began chemotherapy and physical therapy.

SCLC is less common and tends to grow and spread faster than non-SCLC. While it was reported that Diamond had stage 4 disease, SCLC is often more generally classified as either limited or extensive, with the former being far less common because by the time a patient is diagnosed, the cancer has often spread elsewhere in the body. Limited stage SCLC generally refers to cancer that is only on one side of the chest, while extensive stage SCLC refers to cancer that has either spread widely throughout the single lung, to the other lung, to neighboring lymph nodes, or to other areas of the body.

“Saved By The Bell” was recently picked up for a reboot on the streaming network Peacock, bringing back all of the show’s original actors, save Diamond, who was reportedly not sure why Screech didn’t make it to the revival.

Life Expectancy for SCLC

Diamond’s seemingly untimely passing raised the question for many of what the prognosis is for SCLC. The answer, according to the American Cancer Society, is that it depends.

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database stratifies SCLC into three stages:

  • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the lung.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread outside the lung to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, liver, or the other lung.

Peer SEER, the overall five-year survival rate—combining all three stages—is 7%. However, patients with localized SCLC have a 27% five-year survival rate. For regional, that drops to 16%, and for distant, 3%.