Breast Cancer and Other Health Issues

Actor Suzanne Somers has died at the age of 76 after being diagnosed with breast cancer more than two decades ago, which ultimately was her cause of death.

Somers was best known for her roles in the hit sitcoms “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step,” and later in life for her health and fitness business ventures.

Somers died “peacefully at home” surrounded by her family on Oct. 15, one day before her 77th birthday, according to a statement to NBC News from Somers’ publicist on behalf of her family.

Suzanne Somers’ cause of death

Suzanne Somers’ cause of death was breast cancer, her daughter-in-law, Caroline Somers, told The New York Times.

Somers’ publicist confirmed in a statement to NBC News that the actor “survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years.”

Somers, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, opened up about a recent recurrence of breast cancer in an Instagram post in July 2023.

In a separate statement, a representative for Somers told NBC News the actor was dealing with other unspecified health issues at the time when she learned her cancer had returned in 2023, but that she was free from cancer at the time.

Here’s what we know about Somers’ health history over the years.

Hyperplasia in the uterus

Somers’ health struggles began in her 20s. In an interview with CBS News Los Angeles, Somers said she “had cancer three times” when she was playing Chrissy on “Three’s Company” in the 1970s. “They call it severe hyperplasia in your uterus. I didn’t make a big deal about it,” Somers told CBS News.

Hyperplasia in the uterus, known as endometrial hyperplasia, occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) becomes too thick, per the Cleveland Clinic. Some types of endometrial hyperplasia can lead to cancers, including endometrial cancer and uterine cancer.

Melanoma

Somers also battled skin cancer when she was younger. “In my 30s, I got a malignant melanoma in my back,” Somers told CBS News in the same interview.

Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that occurs when the cells that produce pigment to give skin its color (melanocytes), grow out of control, per the American Cancer Society.

Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer, but it is more dangerous because it can spread other parts of the body more easily, TODAY.com previously reported. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

Breast cancer

Somers was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. The actor went public with her diagnosis in a 2001 interview on Larry King Live. Somers told King that doctors found the cancer after a routine mammogram in April 2000 and that she had been receiving treatment for a year at the time.

The actor initially underwent a lumpectomy and radiation to treat her breast cancer, but refused chemotherapy, the Associated Press reported.

In 2007, Somers told the Los Angeles Times she was cancer-free and undergoing hormone treatments.

Over a decade later, Somers gave her fans an update about her ongoing battle with breast cancer in July 2023. On Instagram, Somers revealed her cancer had returned but that she was once again cancer-free.

“As you know, I had breast cancer two decades ago, and every now and then it pops up again, and I continue to bat it down,” Somers wrote in the caption. “I have used the best alternative and conventional treatments to combat it. This is not new territory for me. I know how to put on my battle gear and I’m a fighter.”

“As one of millions of cancer patients, we do our best not to let this insidious disease control us. I find bliss in each day,” Somers said in a separate statement to NBC News at the time.

“It’s a recurrence of my breast cancer. Like any cancer patient, when you get that’s dreaded, ‘It’s back,’ you get a pit in your stomach. Then I put on my battle gear and go to war. This is familiar battleground for me and I’m very tough.”

Fractured hip and neck surgery

In 2020, Somers underwent two separate surgeries for injuries to her hip and neck.

In an exclusive interview in June 2020, Somers told People: “I had a setback this year that I had never experienced — I fractured my hip.” The injury was a result of Somers jumping off a private tram to her house in Palm Springs, which suddenly stopped and became stuck halfway up the hill. “I had no choice but to jump. It was dark and I landed very badly,” Somers said.

Somers underwent surgery to repair her hip and “lied motionless in bed” for weeks while recovering, she told People.

In October 2020, Somers revealed in an Instagram post that she suffered a neck injury after her and husband, Alan Hamel, fell down the stairs in their home, TODAY.com reported.

“I had an intense amount of pain after the fall that was not resolving … After several scans, it was determined I had 2 vertebrae out of place which was causing pressure on nerves,” Somers wrote in the caption. Somers underwent neck surgery.

A private family burial for Somers will take place this week, and a memorial is set for next month, the family said in a statement.