13 Celebrities Who Battled Skin Cancer

Skin cancer often ranks too low on the cancer priority list.

It doesn’t seem as scary as pancreatic, lung, colon, or liver cancer and its treatment is far less invasive than brain or intestinal cancer.

Unfortunately, skin cancer kills thousands every year. In fact, Melanoma alone kills almost one person every hour in the United States!

The saddest part is that skin cancer as a whole is one of the most treatable forms of the dreaded disease and can actually be prevented rather easily, unlike many other forms of cancer.

  • Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer later in life by almost 78%
  • 90% of all skin cancer occur on parts of the body that are not protected by clothing, such as your face, ears and hands.
  • Most people apply only 25% to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.
  • A recent study shows the five-year survival rate for African-Americans afflicted with melanoma is 58.8%, compared to 84.8% in caucasians, showing that skin cancer is more deadly for African-Americans and other minorities.

If you have skin cancer, we know you are taking it seriously, you are scared and you are spending your hard-earned money on full body suits and the best assortment of hats and SPF 300 sunblock around. Know that you are not alone.

Each year more than 2 million new people are diagnosed with a form of skin cancer; in fact, even some of the biggest names in recent history have battled skin cancer. Here are 13 celebrities who have battled skin cancer, proving that it’s a problem for everyone!

Bob Marley

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, Bob Marley actually died of skin cancer. That should dispel the myth that he died playing soccer, or on the beach getting stung by a jellyfish.

What started out as cancer on the toe spread and eventually did him in.

His staunch religious beliefs prohibited him from getting treatment early, though that might have saved his life.

Marley passed on, but left a legacy of dudes in dreadlocks smoking copious amounts of pot … and somewhere in there is his reggae music.

Burgess Meredith

Meredith died of two diseases: melanoma and Alzheimer’s.

The iconic actor was at the end of the road when diagnosed, but by not getting it treated early, the man who played the Penguin on the 1960’s Batman Show put himself in a trap he wasn’t able to get out of.

Ronald Reagan

Even the President of the United States is susceptible to skin cancer.

The actor-turned-leader of the free world had his case of skin cancer surgically removed in 1987, proving that skin cancer is very treatable if detected early.

It also proves that being the President means rocking health care, but that’s a whole different story.

Cybill Shepherd

The former “Moonlighting” star and star of … um … she did something after “Moonlighting,” right?

Well, the former star of the big and small screen had cancerous moles removed from her back.

This wasn’t your normal skin cancer. She had Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DSSP) which affects only five in 1 million people.

It’s rare and aggressive, starting as a tiny bump with potential to turn into a baseball-sized tumor.

It’s not preventable because it has nothing to do with sun exposure. Early diagnoses saved the southern mother.

She’s not merely lucky to be alive – she stayed alert to the risks.

Elizabeth Taylor

The iconic beauty was treated for skin cancer on her cheek.

She had radiation therapy to rid herself of the cancerous cell.

After all, if husband number 815 is anywhere on the horizon, she has to be ready for anything.

George W. Bush

Our President’s aggressive mentality paid off in the doctor’s office. We imagine the conversation went something like this:

Doctor: Mr. President, you have four pre-cancerous legions on your face.
President Bush: Go get ‘em.
Doctor: Well, they MIGHT be dangerous, but we don’t really have it on good authority that they actually ARE dangerous.
Bush: Go get ‘em.
Doctor: Well, we might be putting you at an unnecessary risk.
Bush: Look, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong. You just go in and attack.

Still, Bush was right to go in and not take any chances on the potential for cancer.

When the words cancer come up, you fix it. End of story.

Bill Clinton

Former leaders spend too much time in the sun.

Growing up under the hot Arkansas sun as he did, it’s no wonder Clinton had a basal cell removed from his back.

Reportedly during the removal of the cell he attempted to remove his pants, too.

John McCain

Being a powerful man comes with its challenges.

McCain had cancer removed from his left arm.

The tough and rugged former P.O.W offered to remove the whole arm to help the cause, but was told a simple in-office procedure would be enough to rid him of the dreaded disease.

Mr. T

The 80’s TV icon battled skin cancer in the fight of his life.

An exceedingly rare form of skin cancer threatened to put the tough guy out of commission, but he summoned all the toughness of Clubber Lang and beat skin cancer as if it was Rocky Balboa in the beginning of Rocky III.

Troy Aikman

The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and hall of famer was a well conditioned, healthy man.

That didn’t mean he wouldn’t be susceptible to the ills of skin cancer.

Still, he did what any champion would do: he talked with his doctors and got the treatment he needed as soon as possible. Troy Aikman proved there was life after football — and skin cancer.

Anderson Cooper

The TV journalist had a bout with skin cancer when a cancerous legion was removed from under his eye.

Reportedly, it was due to prolonged exposure to the sun and an unwillingness to never, ever stop staring intently into the camera.

Cooper is now cancer-free but, like a creepy stalker, refuses to ever stop staring into the camera.

“The Camera and I have something special. She just doesn’t know it yet. She’ll see. I swear to you she’ll see.”

Clint Eastwood

This Hollywood tough guy was almost kicked in the teeth by skin cancer. But Clint Eastwood isn’t just tough, he’s smart, too.

He got an early diagnosis and was able to beat the dreaded disease.

Reportedly his treatment was scared to death by Eastwood; no word on other forms of treatment used.

Regis Philbin

The morning talk-show host needed serious surgery to remove lumps from both his hand and his face.

Word has it he and his longtime wife Joy hosted the surgery. Still, even with an aggressive form of skin cancer and an advanced condition he was able to beat it — because he was smart enough to make sure he treated it like the true scare it was.

***

These celebrities all know how important early diagnosis, treatment and prevention are. That’s why most of them are still standing.

Though celebrities have power and wealth, that doesn’t make them invulnerable to cancer.

With early diagnosis, aggressive treatment, and preventative measures throughout life, anyone can be spared the horror of skin cancer.

Right now, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people will be affected by skin cancer, a number that continues to rise every day. These celebrities are great examples of how to respond if you ever experience what they have gone through.

102 Responses to “13 Celebrities Who Battled Skin Cancer”

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  2. [...] Skin cancer often ranks too low on the cancer priority list. It doesn’t seem as scary as pancreatic, lung, colon, or liver cancer and its treatment is far less invasive than brain or intestinal cancer. Unfortunately, skin cancer kills thousands every year. In fact, Melanoma alone kills almost one person every hour in the United States! The saddest part is that skin cancer as a whole is one of the most treatable forms of the dreaded disease and can actually be prevented rather easily, unlike many other forms of cancer. … Read ahead [...]

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