The Truth About Dustin Diamond's Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Dustin Diamond, who starred in the NBC hit Saved by the Bell, playing the character Samuel "Screech" Powers, died on Feb. 1, 2021, according to TMZ. He died at the age of 44 and actually shared his last wishes, which unfortunately never happened because Diamond died sooner than he and his support system were expecting.

Diamond was taken to the hospital in Florida in January 2021, TMZ reports, after he explained that his entire body was in pain. Though he was able to start chemo, he died a few weeks after. As the world grieves his loss, many celebrities have reacted to Diamond's death, thanking him for the humor he brought on screen. Saved by the Bell alum Mark Paul Gosselaar, in particular, made a point to commemorate his time with Diamond. The music world is also grieving the star as Diamond was part of a band and he had a deep passion for music.

Diamond was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, according to TMZ, which is also simply referred to as lung cancer. While the reality is tragic, here's what we know about his diagnosis.

Dustin Diamond received a "brutal" diagnosis

Dustin Diamond first broke the news of his diagnosis in January 2021, according to CNN. After Diamond's death, his manager, Roger Paul, said in a statement: "He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago." 

Paul continued: "In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful."

The specific type of cancer Diamond was diagnosed with, stage 4 small cell carcinoma, or lung cancer, metastasized in Diamond's lungs, according to TMZ. While there are many categories of lung cancer, the two main kinds are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to MedlinePlus. Small cell lung cancer, which Diamond was diagnosed with, is the most aggressive form of lung cancer, according to the outlet. While the cells themselves are small, they create large tumors that often spread to other parts of the body after being found in the lungs. 

So what typically causes SCLC and what are the treatments for it?

What were Dustin Diamond's options for treatment?

Dustin Diamond's lung cancer diagnosis, in the form of stage four small cell lung carcinoma, makes up approximately 15% of all lung cancer diagnoses, according to MedlinePlus. It's typically caused by smoking but it can also be caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as exposure to asbestos, air pollution, tar, soot, or radiation, according to the National Cancer Institute. A history of lung cancer in one's family can also be a risk.

Symptoms of small cell lung carcinoma typically include pain, especially in the chest, shortness of breath, a cough, weight loss, and fatigue, per the outlet. The cancer is treatable, as the National Cancer Institute points out, most typically including chemotherapy and surgery, as well as radiation and laser therapy, immunotherapy, or an endoscope stent placement, which means that a thin tube is placed in the tissue to open a blocked airway.

Despite efforts made to fight the cancer, Diamond's health quickly deteriorated, as BBC noted. With the tragic news of his untimely death, many of his Saved by the Bell costars expressed their grief.

Dustin Diamond is commemorated by his Saved by the Bell co-stars

Saved by the Bell co-star Tori Spelling expressed her grief at the death of Dustin Diamond through a touching tribute via Instagram on Feb. 1, 2021. "My 1st onscreen love Dustin Diamond got his Angel wings today..." Spelling wrote.

"Before there was David and Donna there was Screech and Violet. Dustin was my first on-screen kiss. He welcomed me with open arms onto the set of Saved By the Bell. As one can imagine being the newbie on a hit show was overwhelming for a 14-year-old girl," Spelling added of Diamond. "He not only showed me around but made sure I was always ok. Such a young gentleman. He was kind, smart, and always making everyone laugh. He was a great scene partner. He was a really good guy. I'm sad after the show we never had much contact aside from occasionally running into each other at events. I'm glad he's out of pain. He's an icon to me professionally and personally. RIP Samuel love, your Violet."

Mario Lopez also left a tribute, giving fans a glimpse of what his relationship was like with Diamond. Co-star Tiffani Thiessen jumped on Twitter to commemorate Diamond. "I am deeply saddened by... the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it's something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin."