diseases / medical conditions 17 Celebrities Who Were Diagnosed with Cancer Before the Age of 40  

Sara Lugardo
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According to the American Cancer Society, “More than one million people in the United States get cancer each year.” It’s especially shocking when the diagnosis comes at an early age. Cancer doesn't discriminate, and many celebrities have been diagnosed with cancer before 40. Fortunately, it seems that more and more people are opting to be open about their diagnosis and treatment in an effort to raise awareness. While celebrities often seek to keep their personal lives out of the public eye, a cancer diagnosis is something that many have chosen to reveal to try to help others.

Which famous people were diagnosed with cancer at a young age? TV stars like Michael C. Hall and Christina Applegate both had cancer in their thirties, while Tom Green and Lance Armstrong were diagnosed while still in their twenties. Though some of these celebrities are now cancer-free, others weren't so lucky, leaving behind great work. Read on for the stories of these famous people who had cancer young and how they're doing today.

Michael C. Hall is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 17 Celebrities Who Were Diagnosed with Cancer Before the Age of 40
Photo:  Noam Galai/Getty Images

There aren’t many actors who can boast the same television success Michael C. Hall can. From being on the hit HBO series, Six Feet Under, to playing the most likable serial killer on TV on Dexter, Hall has been uncommonly lucky in his acting choices. It wasn't quite as smooth sailing in his personal life; in January 2010 Hall, age 38, revealed he was being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After undergoing chemotherapy, Hall was officially in remission by late April 2010.

Hall addressed his thoughts on battling cancer with a January 2016 interview with The Guardian stating, “When people go get chemo, they’re not injecting themselves with will – I have lost various loved ones to cancer, and I certainly don’t feel that I am any stronger or braver than them.”

Age: 46

Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America

Profession: Television producer, Film Producer, Actor, Voice acting

Medical Conditions: Hodgkin's lymphoma

Credits: Dexter, Six Feet Under, Gamer, Paycheck

Also Ranked

#26 on The Best TV Actors of All Time

#13 on The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Emmy (for Acting)

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Bob Marley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 17 Celebrities Who Were Diagnosed with Cancer Before the Age of 40
Photo: Jeso Carneiro/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

Bob Marley is one of the most famous musicians to come from Jamaica and is credited with bringing reggae music into the mainstream . In 1977 he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in one of his toes, but disregarded his doctor’s order to amputate.

Ultimately, cancer had spread throughout his body to his brain and lungs and the singer died at the age of 36 in 1981. His last words - said to his son, Ziggy, at the now-University of Miami Hospital - were, “Money can’t buy life.”

Age: Died at 36 (1945-1981)

Birthplace: Nine Mile, Jamaica, Jamaica

Profession: Guitarist, Songwriter, Musician, Singer

Medical Conditions: Melanoma

Credits: In the Name of the Father, La Haine, Shark Tale, I Am Legend

Also Ranked

#36 on The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

#48 on The Best Singers of All Time

#77 on The (Male) Singer You Most Wish You Could Sound Like

#64 on Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

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Mark Ruffalo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 17 Celebrities Who Were Diagnosed with Cancer Before the Age of 40
Photo: Michael Zero Mayer/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

Mark Ruffalo is a highly respected actor with the unique ability to act in everything from mainstream blockbuster roles, like The Avengers film series, to smaller TV portrayals, like in The Normal Heart. Regardless of how big the film or how small the audience, Ruffalo has proven he has a special talent that can’t be denied.

Another of his unique abilities is apparently seeking out help after having bad dreams - or at least that's what happened when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2000, at age 33. In a 2013 interview with the Acoustic Neuroma Association, Ruffalo recounted how he sought help from a set doctor and said, “Listen, I really had a scary dream last night and you’ll probably think I’m crazy but um… But I think I have a brain tumor and I would really like to get it uh… checked out.” Ruffalo made a full recovery.

Age: 49

Birthplace: Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States of America

Profession: Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Film Director

Medical Conditions: Brain cancer

Credits: Shutter Island, The Avengers, Spotlight, Now You See Me

Also Ranked

#46 on The Best Actors Working Today

#49 on The Best American Actors Working Today

#58 on The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

#11 on The Best Marvel Movie Actors Ever

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Giuliana Rancic is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 17 Celebrities Who Were Diagnosed with Cancer Before the Age of 40
Photo: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock

Giuliana Rancic is a celebrated television personality best known for her work on the red carpet and on E!’s Fashion Police. At 36 years old, Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer; fans saw some of her struggles on Giuliana and Bill, the reality series she shared with her husband.

Rancic defended her decision to have a double mastectomy on TODAY by saying, “If I had chosen to just do another lumpectomy and then do radiation and then do anti-estrogen therapy, which means two to five years of medication, that basically puts me into early menopause, then I would have to put off having a baby for several years.” The couple welcomed their first child, Edward Duke Rancic, in 2012 via a surrogate.

Age: 41

Birthplace: Naples, Italy

Profession: Journalist, Television producer, Actor, TV Personality

Medical Conditions: Breast cancer

Credits: E! News^! Fashion Police^! Giuliana & Bill^! Paparazzi

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