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Suzanne Somers dies of breast cancer: What to know about her health

Actor Suzanne Somers has died at the age of 76. Here's what we know about her health history and 23-year battle with breast cancer.
/ Source: TODAY

Suzanne Somers died at the age of 76 on Oct. 15, 2023. The cause of death was breast cancer, her family revealed. The actor died just one day shy of her 77th birthday.

Somers was best known for her roles on the sitcoms "Three's Company" and "Step by Step," and later in life, for her health and fitness business ventures, including promoting the Thighmaster.

In 2001, Somers publicly revealed that she had breast cancer and was undergoing treatment. She was also diagnosed with several other forms of cancer throughout her life.

Earlier this year, Somers announced on social media that her breast cancer had returned, but by the time she shared the news in July 2023, she was cancer free again, she said at the time.

In the weeks before she died, Somers had been seeing specialists in Chicago and seemed to be doing better, her longtime husband Alan Hamel, 87, told NBC News in an interview on Oct. 16. Shortly after returning home, Somers' health took a turn, said Hamel.

Somers died peacefully in the early hours of the morning at her home in Palm Springs, California, according to a statement to NBC News. At the time of her death, she was surrounded by Hamel, her son, Bruce Somers, and other immediate family members.

Here's what we know about Somers' health and cause of death.

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 when she was in her fifties, opened up about her recent recurrence of breast cancer in an Instagram post in July 2023.

A representative for Somers told NBC News the actor was dealing with other unspecified health issues when she learned her cancer had returned in 2023, but that she was once again cancer free at the time.

Somers died just days after returning home from Chicago, where she spent six weeks seeing specialists. “All of a sudden she wasn’t responding and she wasn’t eating and she wasn’t taking her meds,” Hamel told NBC News. “I knew that she did not want to go to a hospital," said Hamel, who sat by Somers' side for days.

Recounting her final moments, Hamel said he had been talking to Somers for hours when her breathing became erratic. “There was no response except when I kissed her, she responded, and then around 5 o’clock in the morning, she was gone.”

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.


Somers also had 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, 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."

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 she and her husband fell down the stairs in their home, 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 in 2020.

Somers is survived by her husband, son, three granddaughters and two stepchildren. 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.