A new American Cancer Society report finds that death rates from breast cancer have dipped 34% since 1990 in the United States. But, breast cancer remains the most common cancer among American women.
Breast cancer accounts for nearly 1-in-3 cancers diagnosed in women. By the end of 2013, an estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and an estimated 39,620 women will die from breast cancer. The risks generally increase with age.
So it should come as no surprise that many of your beloved celebrity actresses have battled breast cancer. Here’s a roundup of 10 women who have shown great courage by going public with their diagnosis and treatment.
The Australian songbird was 36 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. She considers herself lucky because an initial misdiagnosis nearly cost her life. Thankfully, the cancer was correctly diagnosed during a second round of tests. The result: a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Kylie later said, “One important thing to know is you’re still the same person during it. You’re stripped down near zero. But it seems that most people come out at the other end feeling more like themselves than ever before.”
The popular Good Morning America anchor was 46 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She credits self-exams – and an awareness of her body – for her survival.
"I found my lump in a self-exam!" she said. "Because I was familiar with my body and the lumps, I knew this one felt different. It was in a different place on my breast, and it was hard. If I hadn't been doing self-exams, I wouldn't have known that."
Roberts made a full recovery following a lumpectomy and chemotherapy. Sadly, she was later forced to publicly battle another illness: myelodysplastic syndrome. In 2012, she underwent a bone marrow transplant and has since returned to the air.
The singer was 43 when she was diagnosed. After completing chemotherapy and radiation following a lumpectomy, she made headlines for her hairless appearance at the 2005 Grammys.
“Why should I hide my truth? I had cancer. I had chemotherapy. I lost my hair. There's no shame in that," she said. "I stopped. I looked at my life; I looked at my body and spirit. I got a new perspective. That's brought me incredible clarity and a lot of peace."
Cancer has taken quite a toll on Etheridge and her extended family. The disease claimed her father, aunt and grandmother. But it hasn’t stopped her from carrying on after what she termed a “spiritual awakening.”
This superstar singer was 43 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. The star of Grease, now 64, is a spokesperson for the Liv Breast Self-Examination Kit, which offers early detection.
"Be very vigilant about your own breast health and take note of what's going on," she said. "If you do find something that doesn't feel right, go get it checked out and insist on a mammogram."
In 2008, Newton-John helped construct the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
This former Charlie's Angels actress was 56 when she was diagnosed in 2002. She didn’t take the news very well at first.
"I said, 'Take my breast off … take it off, take it off, take it off," she recalled saying. But once she calmed down, Smith opted for a lumpectomy and radiation.
She is now deeply involved in the Strength in Knowing website and program for women with breast cancer.
Nixon was diagnosed in 2006 at the age of 40; her mother is also a breast cancer survivor.
The woman many people associate with the character Miranda on Sex and the City not only beat her cancer, but she went on to become an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Somers was 55 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. The former Three's Company sweetheart underwent a lumpectomy and lost half her breast. Not satisfied with her reconstruction options, she pushed for an alternative – stem cell breast reconstruction.
Somers not only helped promote the experimental procedure, but went on to become the very first American woman to undergo it.
Bates was 64 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. She opted for a double mastectomy just a couple of weeks later.
The Oscar winner never lost her trademark sense of humor.
Among her many quips: “My family calls me Kat because I always land on my feet and thankfully this is no exception”… and “I don’t miss my breasts as much as I miss Harry’s Law.”
“Nurse Jackie” was 40 when she was diagnosed in 2003. She at first opted to keep quiet about her cancer but soon realized she could help others by speaking out publicly.
Falco, who also starred on The Sopranos, went on to become a spokesperson for Health Care for America Now.
“It was very important for me to keep my diagnosis under the radar...because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, ‘How are you feeling?’” Falco said.
Crow was 44 when she was diagnosed in 2006. She’s since gone on to become one of the best-known advocates for breast-cancer awareness. In fact, she helped lobby Congress to pass the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act.
After a routine mammogram showed “suspicious calcifications” in both of her breasts, Crow called off a tour and took action. She was reportedly able to skip chemo because her cancer had been caught so early.
“I am a walking advertisement for early detection,” she said.
What you can do to fight back – good advice from cancer.org:
Because obesity and excess weight increase the risk of developing breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that women maintain a healthy weight throughout their life. Losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
To find breast cancer early, when treatments are more likely to be successful, the American Cancer Society recommends women 40 and older have a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year, and younger women have clinical breast exams periodically as well (preferably at least every 3 years).
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.