Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher by Manfred Werner (CC BY-SA)

These Stars Have Survived Cancer

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Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher by Manfred Werner (CC BY-SA)

Famous Survivors

April is National Cancer Control Month, a reminder that screenings and early detection are one of the most effective ways to overcome cancer and go on to live a meaningful and inspiring life. In the United States, more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Here are some of the most high-profile cancer survivors of recent generations.


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Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early aughts but did not share the news publicly until 2012. When he announced his diagnosis, he also shared that he had not had any invasive procedures to remove the cancer and that he was living a healthy life with the illness. He has regular examinations to make sure it does not spread.

Betsey Johnson
Betsey Johnson by The Heart Truth (CC BY-SA)

Betsey Johnson

Famed clothing designer Betsey Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 after one of her breast implants deflated. She kept her diagnosis a complete secret, telling only her daughter. Johnson was worried the public would think that her life was over. She has been cancer-free for 20 years and now designs clothes in connection with breast cancer charities. 


Hoda Kotb
Getty Images / Bennett Raglin / Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb, co-host of the third hour of "Today," was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, when her gynecologist found a lump. Kotb had a breast reduction, mastectomy, and breast reconstruction. Kotb opened up about her fertility struggles after cancer and later adopted her daughters, Haley and Hope. She has been in remission ever since.

Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall by Kevin McDuffee (CC BY)

Michael C. Hall

Actor Michael C. Hall ("Dexter," "Six Feet Under") was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009, while filming season 4 of "Dexter." He planned on keeping his diagnosis out of the public eye until he realized he’d lost his eyebrows because of chemotherapy. Hall was seen sporting a black beanie at the Golden Globes shortly after his announcement. He began treatment as soon as filming wrapped for the series and has been in remission since.

Wanda Sykes
Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff / WireImage

Wanda Sykes

The 2022 Oscars host and comedian Wanda Sykes announced her breast cancer diagnosis in 2011 on "The Ellen Degeneres Show," sharing that cancer runs in her family. She had a breast reduction and double mastectomy following her diagnosis and has been cancer-free ever since. 


Vergara on the red carpet at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in January 2020
Vergara on the red carpet at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in January 2020 by Cosmopolitan UK (CC BY-SA)

Sofia Vergara

Long before starring in the hit show "Modern Family," Sofia Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 28 years old. She has been cancer-free for more than 20 years and is living with hypothyroidism, but says she is able to lead a normal life.

Mandy Patinkin
Getty Images / Jamie McCarthy / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment

Mandy Patinkin

Most famous for his roles in "The Princess Bride" and "Homeland," and more recently his heartwarming TikTok videos, Mandy Patinkin was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 51, in 2004. He has been outspoken about his cancer and recovery, and about how he lost his own father to the disease. 

jimmy carter
Bettmann/Getty

Jimmy Carter

Beloved former president Jimmy Carter announced in August 2015 that he had melanoma that had spread to his liver and brain. He subsequently underwent surgery, radiation and a newer kind of cancer treatment called immunotherapy to fight the disease. The result was that just months after discovering he had metastatic cancer, doctors announced that he no longer needed cancer treatment. His remarkable outcome was attributed to the drug pembrolizumab, a drug that targets cancer by ramping up the body's immune system.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor
Bruce Glikas / Contributor / WireImage / Getty Images

Ben Stiller

At 48, famed comedian Ben Stiller was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The disease was discovered through a prostate-specific antigen test. He had no symptoms of the disease or family history. Luckily for Stiller, the treatment was fairly simple. He underwent a surgery to remove the prostate and was later declared cancer-free. Many doctors and organizations recommend that men have yearly PSA screenings starting at 50.


Betty Ford, former First Lady of the United States
Betty Ford, former First Lady of the United States by Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division (CC BY)

Betty Ford

First Lady Betty Ford underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer just weeks after her husband was named President of the United States in 1974. Her willingness to discuss what she was going through went a long way toward increasing awareness about breast cancer and raising its visibility. It also allowed other women to establish a dialogue about the issue, which at the time was still a sensitive topic. Ford lived to be 93, passing away in 2011.


Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking over the Yellow Jersey at Grand Prix Midi Libre 2002
Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking over the Yellow Jersey at Grand Prix Midi Libre 2002 by de:Benutzer:Hase (CC BY-SA)

Lance Armstrong

In 1996, the famed road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, the most advanced form of the disease, which has a five-year survival rate of less than 50%. Armstrong underwent surgery and chemotherapy and returned to cycling, winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times. It has been more than 25 years since he was diagnosed. Armstrong established the Livestrong Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support for people affected by the disease.

Sheryl Crow at the USC's Changing Lives and Creating Cures Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 20, 2014
Sheryl Crow at the USC's Changing Lives and Creating Cures Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 20, 2014 by Mingle Media TV (CC BY-SA)

Sheryl Crow

In 2006, after her yearly mammogram, musician Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. After undergoing a minimally invasive lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation, her treatment was complete. The singer has said in interviews that she believes early detection made a big difference in her case. Crow has been active in sharing her experience with other cancer patients to provide hope and insight.


Happy Rockefeller
Amazon

Happy Rockefeller

Several weeks after First Lady Betty Ford underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer, Happy Rockefeller, wife of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, had a double mastectomy. Ford's very public diagnosis led to an increased number of the reported cases of breast cancer, which came to be known as the "Betty Ford blip." Like Ford, Rockefeller had a long life after contracting the disease, passing away in 2015 at 88 years old.


Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett by USA International Trade Administration (CC BY)

Warren Buffett

In April 2012, billionaire Warren Buffett announced to shareholders that he had prostate cancer, telling them: "The good news is that I've been told by my doctors that my condition is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way." Then 81, the Berkshire Hathaway owner underwent a series of 44 radiation treatments for his cancer. He continues to serve as chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.


Christina Applegate speaking at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con International
Christina Applegate speaking at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con International by Gage Skidmore (CC BY)

Christina Applegate

With a family history of breast cancer, "Married with Children" star Christina Applegate was vigilant about getting regular mammograms starting at 30 years old. In 2008, at age 36, she also underwent an MRI on her breasts, after which she was diagnosed with the disease. In the years following, the actress founded Right Action for Women, which helps at-risk women pay for MRI screenings and testing.

Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova by Michal.Pohorelsky (CC BY)

Martina Navratilova

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, in 2010. Her treatment included a lumpectomy and radiation. The Wimbledon champion has said in interviews that she felt partly to blame for the diagnosis, as she went four years without getting a mammogram. Luckily, the prognosis for someone with DCIS is outstanding, with a 99% survival rate.

Singer Melissa Etheridge performs at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde on August 24, 2010
Singer Melissa Etheridge performs at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde on August 24, 2010 by Andrew Olivo Parodi (CC BY)

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge's case dates back to 2005, when she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. The "Come to My Window" crooner went through a lumpectomy and five rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She also credits medical marijuana with helping her through the difficult side effects of chemotherapy, including gastrointestinal pain, loss of appetite, and depression. The rocker is now focused on eating well, exercising, and working every day to keep her body strong and healthy.


Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher by Manfred Werner (CC BY-SA)

Fran Drescher

Famous for her role on the sitcom "The Nanny," Fran Drescher knew something was wrong when she completed the 1999 season of the show. She was officially diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000. She went on to write a bestselling book in 2003 chronicling the experience. She also served as president of the Cancer Schmancer Movement, an organization focused on the importance of early detection and prevention.

Ice hockey player Mario Lemieux in 2001
Ice hockey player Mario Lemieux in 2001 by Rick Dikeman (CC BY-SA)

Mario Lemieux

NHL hockey player Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, now known as Hodgkin's lymphoma, when he was 27 years old, in 1993. After an enlarged lymph node was removed from his neck, Lemieux was found to be in the early stages of the disease and underwent radiation. He returned to complete a Hall of Fame career and later became the owner of his team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Mario Lemieux Foundation now raises funds for cancer research and patient care. 

Kathy Bates at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con International in San Diego, California
Kathy Bates at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con International in San Diego, California by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

Kathy Bates

Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates fought cancer on two occasions. In 2003, she dealt with ovarian cancer. In 2011, she was found to have cancer in her left breast and underwent a double mastectomy. Bates has since spoken out widely about cancer and the importance of early screenings as well as serving as an ambassador on behalf of the Lymphatic Education & Research Network about lymphedema, a painful condition that can affect up to 30% of breast cancer survivors.


Sharon Osbourne at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards 2012
Sharon Osbourne at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards 2012 by Eva Rinaldi (CC BY-SA)

Sharon Osbourne

In 2002, Sharon Osbourne, then host of daytime TV show "The Talk," was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 49. She subsequently had a foot of her large intestine removed, as well as some surrounding lymph nodes. Because one of those lymph nodes tested positive for cancer, indicating the disease had spread beyond her colon, Osbourne was also treated with chemotherapy. She later helped establish the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She has since remained cancer-free. 


Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman by Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan (CC BY)

Hugh Jackman

"Wolverine" star Hugh Jackman has had six operations to remove basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, from his face. Jackman first discovered it in 2013 after noticing an abnormal mole.

Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown by State of California (CC BY)

Jerry Brown

Former California governor Jerry Brown was first diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 2012. In 2017, his office announced that he would receive additional treatment for the disease but would remain at work while doing so. He received a short course of radiation and doctors gave Brown an excellent diagnosis. He also had surgery in 2011 to remove a basal cell carcinoma from his nose.


Sandra Lee at the 2012 Time 100 gala
Sandra Lee at the 2012 Time 100 gala by David Shankbone (CC BY)

Sandra Lee

In 2015, Food Network celebrity chef Sandra Lee revealed that she had been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ after a routine mammogram. Then 48, Lee underwent a lumpectomy initially to treat the non-invasive breast cancer, and later opted for a double mastectomy. She has since spoken out strongly about the need for starting mammograms in a woman's twenties or thirties.

ABC television talk show host Joan Lunden autographs a baseball cap for Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan E. Wilson
ABC television talk show host Joan Lunden autographs a baseball cap for Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan E. Wilson by MSgt. Mamie Burke, USAF (CC BY)

Joan Lunden

Former "Good Morning America" co-host Joan Lunden was diagnosed with breast cancer after having an ultrasound, a diagnostic method used on women who have dense, fibrous tissue. A tumor was discovered in her right breast, and a core biopsy confirmed that she had cancer. Lunden had chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, and radiation. She is now an advocate for cancer screenings, breast self-exams, and early detection.


Ken Griffey Sr.
Getty Images / Mark Brown / Contributor / Getty Images Sport

Ken Griffey Sr.

Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Sr. was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006. Because he had a family history of cancer, Griffey had been getting regular prostate exams and prostate-specific antigen tests, which led to early detection of his case. After having surgery to address the cancer, the sports legend remains cancer-free.


Janice Dickinson attending Luisa Diaz's Havana White Party at Berri's Café in Los Angeles
Janice Dickinson attending Luisa Diaz's Havana White Party at Berri's Café in Los Angeles by © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com (CC BY-SA)

Janice Dickinson

In 2016, legendary supermodel Janice Dickinson underwent two lumpectomies and two months of radiation for breast cancer. The former "America's Next Top Model" judge says she is now cancer-free.


Larry King at Celebrity Fight Night XXIII in Phoenix, Arizona
Larry King at Celebrity Fight Night XXIII in Phoenix, Arizona by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

Larry King

In 2017, talk show host Larry King had an annual chest X-ray that revealed a cancerous mass on his lung. The famed interviewer underwent surgery in July 2017 and the doctors removed the malignancy. One week later, King was back to work on "Larry King Now." He also recovered from prostate cancer in 1999. He died at age 87 shortly after a COVID-19 diagnosis, with sepsis being the official cause of death.


Ronnie Wood
Ronnie Wood by SolarScott (CC BY)

Ronnie Wood

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood had part of a lung removed in 2017 after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Luckily, the cancer had not spread and after three months of check-ups, doctors gave Wood a clean bill of health.


Jaime Luis Gomez - Black eyed peas
Jaime Luis Gomez - Black eyed peas by Walterlan Papetti (CC BY-SA)

Jaime 'Taboo' Gomez

Black Eyed Peas member Jaime "Taboo" Gomez was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014 following a visit to the emergency room for pain in his back and abdomen. Gomez was treated with surgery and aggressive chemotherapy. He is now in remission and works to help provide better health care access on Native American reservations.


Bill Wyman
Bill Wyman by Jaccob Barth (CC BY)

Bill Wyman

In 2016, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman revealed on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. In the tweet, Wyman wrote that he was expected to make a full recovery. The musician, record producer, and songwriter was a member of the Stones from 1962 until 1993.

Phil Lesh performing at Terrapin Crossroads December 6, 2013
Phil Lesh performing at Terrapin Crossroads December 6, 2013 by SaltyBoatr (CC BY-SA)

Phil Lesh

Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh discovered in 2015 that he had bladder cancer. After undergoing treatment he reported that the cancer was non-aggressive and the situation was "under control." Lesh subsequently returned to touring with his bands Phil Lesh and Friends and PhilRad.


Tommy Chong
Tommy Chong by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

Tommy Chong

Comedian Tommy Chong was diagnosed in 2012 with stage one prostate cancer. Chong said he drastically changed his lifestyle after that, including seeking naturopathic treatment. In 2015, he was also diagnosed with stage one colorectal cancer. After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, Chong declared that he was doing well.


Robin Quivers
Jamie McCarthy / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images North America

Robin Quivers

Radio personality Robin Quivers, who privately underwent treatment after a 2012 cancer diagnosis, announced on Howard Stern's radio show that she was cancer-free the following year. She has said the only symptom of the disease was that she was tired. She had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment for a mass on her uterus. Now in remission, Quivers advocates for cancer research.


Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue by marcen27 (CC BY)

Kylie Minogue

While in the middle of her 2005 world tour, songstress Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to have a partial mastectomy and undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Speaking on "60 Minutes" several years later, Minogue said having cancer taught her to begin putting herself first.


Peter Criss of the band KISS (sans makeup)
Peter Criss of the band KISS (sans makeup) by Steven Hoffmaster (CC BY)

Peter Criss

Even men can get breast cancer, as Kiss drummer Peter Criss discovered. In 2008 he was diagnosed with the disease after noticing a painful lump in his chest while working out. Luckily, the cancer was treated before it could spread. To raise awareness surrounding the issue, Criss has talked publicly about his health scare in interviews. He now gets regular mammograms.