Dustin Diamond, Known As Screech on ‘Saved By The Bell,’ Starts Stage 4 Lung Cancer Treatment—What Does This Mean?

Dustin Diamond, known best for his portrayal of Screech Powers on the hit 1990’s show “Saved By The Bell,” was recently diagnosed with stage 4 small cell lung cancer (SCLC), according to his representative.

It has now been reported that Diamond has begun chemotherapy.

According to a statement from Diamond’s representative, Roger Paul, “Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media.”

The actor “has his good and bad days,” a spokesperson for Diamond told the Los Angeles Times in an email, further adding that he “continues to receive … messages of support from his fans on his Facebook page.” (It is unclear whether the spokesperson from the email was also Paul.)

TMZ first broke the story when Diamond was initially hospitalized. The outlet also reported that while Diamond was diagnosed with stage 4 SCLC, “we’re told the cancer started elsewhere in his body and metastasized in his lungs.”

What Is Small Cell Lung Cancer?

The two primary types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC, the more common of the two, constitutes about 80% to 85% of all lung cancers.

SCLC, which is what Diamond reportedly has, is much less common and tends to grow and spread faster than NSCLC. According to the American Cancer Society, the majority of patients’ cancer will have already spread by the time they are diagnosed with SCLC. It tends to respond well to radiation therapy and chemotherapy, the latter of which Diamond is reportedly receiving.

The media has reported that Diamond’s lung cancer is stage 4. It’s unclear where, if anywhere, a different cancer began in his body.

SCLC is often grouped into two general stages, limited and extensive, for the purpose of deciding the best course of treatment.

Limited stage SCLC generally refers to cancer that is only on one side of the chest. In this stage, it’s possible that the cancer may respond to radiation therapy in just one treatment area. It’s uncommon for patients to have limited stage SCLC at the time of diagnosis, only occurring in about 1 of 3 patients, because often it’s already spread elsewhere, making it extensive stage SCLC. 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.

The American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM staging system provides more specific staging options, with the letters referring to tumor, lymph nodes, and metastasis; the earliest stages of cancer per the TNM staging system are referred to as 0, with the remaining stages being I through IV. Notably, though, TNM stage is typically not considered as important in patients with SCLC.