30 celebrities who survived cancer

Written by:
December 7, 2018
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30 celebrities who survived cancer

Cancer will touch many people at some point in their lives. The American Cancer Society estimated that about 1.7 million Americans would be diagnosed with cancer in 2018. The estimate doesn’t take into account certain skin cancers or non-invasive cancers, so the actual numbers are likely to be even higher.

In today’s world of social media and open communication, many celebrities are choosing to speak publicly about their cancer diagnoses. Some simply want to be open with their fans, but many wish to raise awareness about everything from early diagnosis to treatment options, especially if their cancer is rare.

Stacker gathered a list of 30 celebrities who have survived cancer. The conditions and treatment options differed among them, but their perseverance has undoubtedly had a positive impact on society. 

1 / 30
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Sofia Vergara

You may be familiar with this actress from the long-running TV series "Modern Family.” But Vergara also is in remission from thyroid cancer, for which she had surgery and radiation. She manages the resulting hypothyroidism with medication.

2 / 30
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Tig Notaro

In a famous 2012 comedy set, Notaro openly declared to the world, "Hello, I have cancer.” She underwent a double mastectomy to manage her bilateral breast cancer, and displayed her mastectomy scars on stage and social media.

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Elizabeth Taylor

Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor survived a benign brain tumor and basal cell carcinoma. Taylor had surgery for both, and has remained in remission. She encouraged her fans to donate to her long-running Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation instead of sending her flowers during treatment.

4 / 30
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Edie Falco

The star of "Nurse Jackie” and "The Sopranos" received lots of support from her colleagues during treatment for breast cancer. Falco is in remission, and attributes her sobriety to her emotional recovery from the disease.

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Ewan McGregor

Famous for "Moulin Rouge!” and "Trainspotting” Ewan McGregor had a lower-risk run-in with cancer in 2008. While having several moles removed, McGregor received news that one was cancerous. It was caught early, and McGregor made a full recovery.

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Fran Drescher

Known for her quick wit in "The Nanny,” Drescher’s uterine cancer diagnosis was no laughing matter. The actress underwent a radical hysterectomy as part of her treatment. Today, she’s an advocate for better public health awareness

7 / 30
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Cynthia Nixon

This multi-faceted actress, best-known for her role on "Sex and the City,” also ran for governor of New York. Nixon kept her breast cancer diagnosis private from her fans while going through treatment. She caught the tumor "very early” and is in remission. 

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Wanda Sykes

When comedian Wanda Sykes was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, an aggressive kind of precancerous growth, she chose a double mastectomy to eliminate any chance for the disease to progress. As Sykes said in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, "I had both breasts removed because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer."

9 / 30
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Kylie Minogue

Australian songstress Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36. Her course of treatment included radiation, chemotherapy, and a partial mastectomy, and she's now cancer-free. Minogue has been open about her initial misdiagnosis, and emphasizes that patients need to be informed advocates regarding their own care.

10 / 30
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Stephen Fry

British comedian Stephen Fry was diagnosed with prostate cancer this past January. Fry spoke about his experience with treatment in a message to fans, attesting that his surgery had been a success and he's now in remission. 

11 / 30
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Betsey Johnson

Eclectic fashion designer Betsey Johnson was diagnosed with cancer as a complication from breast augmentation surgery. She entered remission after after radiation and surgery, and is active in raising awareness of breast cancer within the fashion industry.

12 / 30
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Christina Applegate

Known for her role on "Married…with Children,” Christina Applegate was outspoken about her breast cancer diagnosis in 2008. Applegate underwent surgery and radiation after a double mastectomy, and oophorectomy—removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

13 / 30
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Tom Green

In 2000, comedian Tom Green publicly disclosed a diagnosis of testicular cancer. He wound down his career to focus on his health, but not before he famously filmed "The Tom Green Cancer Special" during his treatment, broadcast on MTV the same year.

14 / 30
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Anderson Cooper

CNN newsman and TV personality Anderson Cooper was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2008. Thankfully it proved uncomplicated to treat, and Cooper achieved full remission after surgery.

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Cobie Smulders

"How I Met Your Mother” star Cobie Smulders was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 25. She’s in remission now, but it took many surgeries over several years to reach that point.

16 / 30
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Suzanne Somers

Former "Three’s Company” star Suzanne Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, and underwent a lumpectomy. After recovering, Somers became an advocate for alternative cancer treatments, as well as end-of-life care.

17 / 30
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Melissa Etheridge

Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, underwent chemotherapy and radiation following a lumpectomy, and is now in remission. Etheridge also advocates for cancer patients' access to medical marijuana.

18 / 30
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Marcia Cross

"Desperate Housewives” actress Marcia Cross underwent treatment for cancer in 2018, sharing photos of her hair loss on Instagram. She did not reveal details of her treatment but said she was eight months cancer free.

19 / 30
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Julia Child

Renowned chef and cooking show host Julia Child was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 55. She had a double mastectomy, and publicly discussed her detection and treatment with talk show host Dick Cavett in 1975.

20 / 30
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Michael Douglas

In 2010, Michael was diagnosed with oral cancer. Through chemotherapy and radiation, Douglas entered remission and is healthy today. 

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Mark Ruffalo

"Avengers" star Mark Ruffalo was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2001. Ruffalo made a full recovery after surgery, but suffered complications including facial paralysis.


22 / 30
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Jane Fonda

Actress and fitness maven Jane Fonda had a non-invasive breast tumor removed in 2010. In early 2018, she disclosed that she’d also had a cancerous growth removed from her lip. 

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Sheryl Crow

Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow has been open about her breast cancer diagnosis, which was treated with surgery and radiation in 2006. In 2014, Crow disclosed the diagnosis of a benign brain tumor

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Rod Stewart

Aside from a worrying incident in 2018, Stewart has remained in remission since a successful surgery for thyroid cancer in 2000. 

25 / 30
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Olivia Newton-John

"Grease” star Olivia Newton-John has had a long relationship with cancer. She received a breast cancer diagnosis in 1992, followed by a spinal cancer diagnosis in 2013 (not made public). Newton-John announced this past September that her cancer had returned, and her medical treatment includes radiation therapy. 

26 / 30
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Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates' ovarian cancer was closely followed by breast cancer in 2012. Complications from a double mastectomy led to lymphedema, but the actress has since entered remission. 

27 / 30
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Mr. T

Diagnosed in 1995 with T-cell Lymphoma, Mr. T emerged stronger than ever after several rounds of chemotherapy. The actor donated his salary from performing on "Dancing with the Stars" to Shriners Hospitals for Children as well as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

28 / 30
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Sharon Osbourne

Reality show family matriarch Sharon Osbourne was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002. Treatment included surgery and a preventative mastectomy.

29 / 30
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Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, and entered remission thanks to early detection and aggressive treatment. 

30 / 30
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Hugh Jackman

Australian superstar Hugh Jackman received treatment for basal cell carcinoma in February 2017, including surgery. Jackman has spoken openly about his condition, and has used his fame to discuss the importance of wearing sunscreen.

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