In early 2000, comedian Tom Green was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The 28-year-old star of his own MTV show instantly became the face of the disease. Soon after his diagnosis, he taped a special with then-girlfriend Drew Barrymore chronicling his treatment. A humorous song encouraging young men to “feel [their] balls so [they] don’t get cancer,” followed and gave other afflicted adult males an unlikely role model in their fight to regain health. Since then, Green is reportedly healthy after early detection saved his life.

Each day, a reported 3,400 people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Many find themselves fighting skin cancer; others battle testicular or colorectal malignancies. A growing number of women and men are waging personal wars against breast cancer.

Richard Roundtree was the star of the 1970s film series, Shaft. As the reigning king of blaxploitation movies, Roundtree was instantly recognizable and managed to influence many generations after his own. However, in 1993, the star was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before his admission to the world, few people outside of the medical community were even aware that men could be diagnosed with breast cancer (which has largely been associated with women). After enduring the rigors of chemotherapy, as well as a double mastectomy, Roundtree emerged victorious and has often spoken publicly about his experience with the disease.

While doctors and scientists are working hard to find a cure for cancer, to date there are no known drug or treatment that is sure to eradicate its existence. Most treatments for those afflicted may include radiation treatment, chemotherapy and the use of drugs like Tamoxifen (used for breast cancer).

Success stories often hinge on early detection. Doctors urge patients to get yearly checkups and to also utilize self-examination where possible to find lumps or hard matter lurking below the skin’s surface. MRIs have also saved a number of lives, including Christina Applegate’s.

At 36, Applegate’s career was going strong. She was the star of an ABC series called “Samantha Who?” and had starred in a number of blockbuster comedies including The Sweetest Thing (opposite Cameron Diaz) and Anchorman (opposite Will Ferrell). However, in 2008, it was announced that she not only had been diagnosed with breast cancer but had undergone a double mastectomy following an MRI. Applegate’s test results showed that she was a carrier for the genetic mutation that caused the disease, possibly inherited from her mother who was also a breast cancer survivor.

Cancer has been stigmatized quite often. Many people mistakenly believe that the disease only strikes older people or that certain forms of the disease will bypass them based on race or sex. For years, it was thought that black skin was immune to melanoma, but dermatologists report many cases to the contrary each year. While some forms of the disease are also prevalent in middle-aged men and women, people in their 20s should also be on guard. Testicular cancer (which Green had) and cervical cancer are two forms of the disease known to strike younger people at a growing rate.

Hairspray star Marissa Jaret Winokur won her battle against cervical cancer while appearing on Broadway. Although she kept news of her plight secret while receiving treatment, she has been vocal in the years since, encouraging young women to get examined for the disease. While 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), the other 30 percent contract the disease based on various genetic or hereditary indicators. A vaccine now exists for HPV-related cervical cancer and is readily accessible to young women who wish to receive it.

In the event that an individual is diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age, gender or race, there is now a wealth of information and support groups available to aid in treatment. Many have even taken to the Internet: Survive and Thrive Cancer Support groups ( is an online resource that aggregates a number of Web sites to help patients manage everything from integrative health care to their finances. Lance Armstrong’s also seeks to empower its visitors who are living with the disease.

As cancer continues to touch lives, it is now possible for patients and survivors to stay steps ahead by realizing that they are not alone, nor are they fighting a losing a battle.