Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on August 28, 2023
Shannen Doherty

Shannen Doherty


Doherty, former star of Beverly Hills, 90210, has stage IV breast cancer. She has been treated for breast cancer once before, having first been diagnosed in 2015. She had surgery, radiation, and chemo at the time and was in remission. She kept her cancer’s return private for about a year before going public with her news. Doherty told Good Morning America, "I definitely have days where I say, 'Why me?' And then I go, 'Well, why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this?' None of us do.”  

Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes


This stand-up comedian sees sharp humor in everything. But her health took a serious turn in 2011 after she had elective surgery to make her breasts smaller. Samples of her breast tissue revealed Sykes had cancer in her milk ducts called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). "In situ" means the cancer cells hadn’t spread beyond the ducts. Because the disease runs in her mother’s family, Sykes opted for surgery to remove both of her breasts.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow


She’s a rock musician with a squeaky-clean lifestyle and no family history of cancer. But Crow’s dense breast tissue made it hard to do self-exams. When her 2006 mammogram raised flags, the radiologist suggested she check back in 6 months. But her OB/GYN recommended a biopsy to check her tissue samples. The results showed DCIS. Crow had a lumpectomy, which takes out only the cancerous tissue, plus 7 weeks of radiation therapy.

Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate


Her mother had survived breast cancer. So Applegate, an actress, was diligent about her yearly mammograms. When a follow-up MRI showed the disease in her left breast, her doctor scheduled a lumpectomy and a round of radiation. But then Applegate tested positive for the gene that causes breast cancer, which put her at high risk for having it again. So she chose to have a double mastectomy instead.

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts


The co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America felt a lump in her breast during a self-exam in 2007. Knowing right away it wasn’t normal, she went for an ultrasound and a biopsy. Roberts had the fast-growing triple-negative cancer, which happens more in African Americans and Hispanics. Roberts had a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation therapy. She speaks out on self-exams, which catch about 40% of breast cancer cases.

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge


When this rocker and activist found a large lump in her breast while on tour at age 43, her instinct was denial. Cancer ran deeply in Etheridge’s family, including in her mother, father, aunt, and grandmother. Her tumor turned out to be stage III breast cancer. Doctors later downgraded the diagnosis to stage II, meaning that the cancer had not spread far from the breast. Shortly after she finished her treatment, Etheridge performed bald at the 2005 Grammy Awards.

Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee


In 2015, this Food Network star and New York state’s unofficial first lady found out she had DCIS, meaning the cancer was confined to her milk ducts. Unfortunately, the tumors were in three different places in the breast. Worried that the cancer may appear in the other breast, Lee opted for a double mastectomy. She filmed her experience, including her surgery, for an HBO documentary.

Giuliana Rancic

Giuliana Rancic


E! News co-anchor Rancic was 36 and preparing to start her third round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in 2011 when a mammogram showed an early-stage breast tumor. A lumpectomy failed to get rid of the cancer. Rancic opted for a double mastectomy because she feared radiation or chemo treatments might make it harder for her to get pregnant.

Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John


Since her 1992 diagnosis, this Australian singer and actress has become one of the best known advocates for breast cancer awareness in the world. Then in 2017, Newton-John told the public that the cancer had moved to her lower back. But it wasn’t until the following year that she also acknowledged an earlier bout with cancer, in 2013, in her shoulder. Newton-John said medical marijuana has helped and told her fans she’s “doing great.”

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb


Born in Oklahoma to parents who emigrated from Egypt, Kotb in 2007 was a busy international broadcast journalist and a correspondent for Dateline NBC. Then her gynecologist felt a suspicious lump in her breast during a routine checkup. Kotb had a mastectomy and now credits her diagnosis as a wake-up call that ultimately led to a happy new relationship and motherhood.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus


The morning after she won her sixth Emmy for her TV show Veep, this former  Seinfeld star got her biopsy result: breast cancer. Louis-Dreyfus received rounds of chemo while her show was on break, which left her with extreme nausea and diarrhea. A year later, tests showed her cancer was gone. Louis-Dreyfus used her experience and fame to push for universal health care and to help women afford breast reconstruction.

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates


This Oscar-winning actress’s mother had breast cancer, and Bates expected to get it, too. But her first cancer was found in her ovaries. Then in 2012, Bates got the breast cancer diagnosis she had long expected. Bates had a double mastectomy. She also had a complication called lymphedema, which causes painful fluid buildup under the skin. Bates wears a compression sleeve to manage swelling.

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue


Australian-British pop singer Minogue says her doctor missed her breast cancer in 2005. She learned about the misdiagnosis only when she went back for a second opinion several weeks later. Minogue quickly had lumpectomy to remove the small tumor, followed by chemo. She now tells women to trust their instincts. "If you have any doubt, go back again."

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson


This fashion designer learned she had breast cancer by chance in 1999 after she rushed to the hospital when one of her breast implants leaked and collapsed. Known for her flamboyant style, Johnson at first told only her daughter out of fear that it might hurt her business. Since then, Johnson has come out as a vocal advocate for breast cancer awareness.

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon


The mother of this Sex and the City star and New York mayoral candidate had breast cancer twice. So Nixon started regular mammograms at 35, which is 15 years sooner than is generally advised for women without special risks. She credits her doctor for ordering the biopsy that caught her cancer 5 years later. Though the tumor was small, the doctor was suspicious because it hadn’t turned up in previous screenings.

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson


Actress-singer and wife of Tom Hanks, Wilson revealed in 2015 that she had invasive lobular carcinoma. This type of cancer starts in the cells that line the breast lobules, where milk is made after childbirth. Wilson had surgery to remove and reconstruct both breasts. Wilson was initially found to have lobular carcinoma in situ, which is not a cancer but which does raise your risk for invasive breast cancer.

Amy Robach

Amy Robach


Robach, an anchor on Good Morning America, in 2013 had a mammogram on live TV to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A month later, she told viewers that the screening had found cancer. She quickly scheduled surgery to remove both of her breasts, a step her doctor considered too drastic for her early-stage cancer. Robach reported from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, between her rounds of chemotherapy.

Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers


This former sitcom star had surgery and radiation for breast cancer in 2001. But instead of chemotherapy, Somers opted to take a drug made from mistletoe extract, which is not approved by the FDA. In Europe, mistletoe extract is widely prescribed as a complementary therapy for cancer. Somers went on to embrace a controversial nutritional approach to treat cancer and now says if she could to do it over, she would skip radiation, too.

Edie Falco

Edie Falco


Just hours after she learned she had cancer, Falco was in front of the cameras on the set of The Sopranos with James Gandolfini, who played her ex-husband, Tony. Falco said the shock of her diagnosis helped fuel the anger the scene needed. She didn’t miss a day of work during her 2003 chemotherapy, which Falco credits to the fact that it happened after she had quit alcohol and gotten sober.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova


Tennis great Navratilova urges women not to put off regular mammograms like she used to. She was diagnosed with DCIS in February 2010. That was 5 years after her last mammogram. Despite her shock, Navratilova moved with her typical aggressiveness and had a lumpectomy 3 weeks later. Less than 2 weeks after that, she competed in a 24.9-mile cycling portion of a triathlon in Hawaii.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem


After her cancer diagnosis at age 52, this feminist icon had to battle her own surgeon to get the lumpectomy that her radiologist recommended. The surgeon favored a more aggressive option of removing the entire breast, as was common during the 1980s. Steinem ultimately flew to Boston for the surgery she wanted and returned to New York for her radiation treatments. 

Jaclyn Smith

Jaclyn Smith


This actress, entrepreneur, and mother of two was too busy and felt too healthy to worry when her doctor wanted to take a biopsy of her left breast tissue. The news that it was cancerous left Smith so shocked that she barely heard the doctor reassure her that the tumor was small and caught early. Today, Smith regularly advises women in similar situations to have a family member or friend with them to help sort out the medical information.

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll


She started modeling at age 15 and went on to become one of the best-known African American entertainers as a singer, Broadway star, and a television trailblazer. But Carroll’s first reaction to her 1997 cancer diagnosis was to keep it a secret. She quickly got over her vanity when she realized her story could help other women. Carroll even let Connie Chung film her radiation treatment.

Teresa Heinz Kerry

Teresa Heinz Kerry


Philanthropist Heinz Kerry is married to former presidential nominee and Secretary of State John Kerry. She had cancer in both breasts, which happens rarely. She also had a different type of early-stage cancer in each breast. In such cases, the chances of cancer-free survival depend on the breast with the more aggressive tumors. The treatments can be different, too. Kerry had a lumpectomy in each breast plus radiation therapy.

Carly Simon

Carly Simon


Singer-songwriter Simon had successful surgery to remove a stage I tumor in 1997. The 1970s icon’s doctor left it up to her whether to have chemo. She did, just to be safe. Simon later acknowledged she was in deep depression around the same time. Since then, she’s written a New York Times best-selling memoir and stays busy writing and making music with her children. 

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith


This British actress was 73 and receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer when she began filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Smith earlier had found a lump she wrongly thought was benign. After 2 years of treatment, doctors deemed her cancer-free.

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Good Morning America: “Shannen Doherty shares she has stage 4 breast cancer: ‘I’d rather people hear it from me.’”

Los Angeles Times: “Wanda Sykes' Double Mastectomy is Aggressive Treatment for DCIS.”

People: “Wanda Sykes: My Breast Cancer Battle.”

Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center: “Gratitude and Grace: The Sheryl Crow Interview.”

National Breast Cancer Foundation: “Just Like Us: Celebrities Speak Up About Breast Cancer,” “What Does it Mean to Have Stage 3 Breast Cancer?”

Mayo Clinic: “Lumpectomy.”

CNN: “Christina Applegate: Why I Had a Double Mastectomy,” “Heinz’s Form of Cancer Rare but Treatable,” “Navratilova: My Cancer Battle.”

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation: “Triple Negative Breast Cancer.”

The Telegraph (UK): “Dame Maggie Smith Reveals Harry Potter Breast Cancer Treatment Struggle,” “Kylie Minogue’s Cancer was ‘Misdiagnosed.’”

ABC News: “Maggie Smith Recounts Breast Cancer Battle.”

Good Housekeeping: “Sandra Lee Offers a Deeper Look Into Her Breast Cancer Battle in a New HBO Documentary.”

AARP: “Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge Beat Breast Cancer and Heartache.”

Today: “Famous Breast Cancer Survivors.”

Glamour: “Diary of a Mastectomy: Giuliana and Bill Rancic.”

The New Yorker: “Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out.”

Time: “Julia Louis-Dreyfus on What She Learned From Battling Breast Cancer: 'Health Care Should Be For All.'”

USA Today: “Here's Why Julia Louis-Dreyfus Made Her Cancer Battle Public,” "Olivia Newton-John explains why she kept her second cancer battle secret: 'It’s my life.’”

CBS Sunday Morning: “Betsey Johnson, Fashion’s Free Spirit.”

Self: “Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was 'to-My-Bones Terrified' After Her Breast Cancer Diagnosis.”

American Association for Cancer Research: “Kathy Bates Discusses Her Struggle with Lymphedema.”

ABC News: “Judy Blume Shares Breast Cancer Diagnosis.”

The Washington Post: “Breast cancer awareness: Betsey Johnson advocates with fashion.”

The Daily Mail (UK): “Martina Navratilova accepts blame for cancer diagnosis after admitting she let mammogram check-up 'slip.'”

Yahoo Finance: “Kathy Bates on surviving cancer twice: ‘I’m one of the lucky ones.'” “'Cancer shaped me, but it did not define me': Hoda Kotb on overcoming breast cancer,” “Five years after cancer, an emotional Hoda thanks her doctors.”

Arab America: “Arab American Hoda Kotb to Replace Matt Lauer as ‘Today’ Co-Anchor.”

New York Daily News: “Jaclyn Smith recalls breast-cancer fright,” “Carly Simon Battles Back From Breast Cancer.”

University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center: “Jaclyn Smith: Knowledge is Power.”

Marie Claire: “Life Stories: Gloria Steinem.”

The New York Times: “Review/Television; Facing Breast Cancer and One's Own Mortality,” “Amy Robach of ABC Says On-Air Mammogram Found Breast Cancer,” “Well: Suzanne Somers, Cancer Expert,” “Carly Simon and Her Family, on Martha’s Vineyard.”

Cure: “Amy Robach Discusses Her Cancer Experience,” “Q&A with Cynthia Nixon.”

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: “Understanding Rita Wilson’s diagnosis.”

Parade: “Edie Falco: Sobriety Helped Battle Cancer.”

Daily Beast: “Edie Falco Comes Clean.”

National Public Radio: “Edie Falco on Sobriety, The Sopranos, And Nurse Jackie’s Self-Medication.”

National Cancer Institute: “Mistletoe Extracts (PDQ®)–Patient Version.”

The Trust About Cancer: “Suzanne Somers: How I’d Treat My Breast Cancer Differently Today (Video).”

People: “Shannen Doherty and Husband Open up About Breast Cancer Battle: 'It Has Brought Us Closer Together.'”

Good Morning America: “Shannen Doherty Opens up After Battle With Cancer: ‘It Made Me a Better Human Being.’”

Reuters: “A Minute With: Carly Simon on Writing Songs and Books.”

TV Guide: “Carly Simon’s Candid Talk.”