Shannen Doherty may have wanted to keep her breast cancer battle quiet, but the power of a celebrity publicly taking on the disease can do a lot of good.

Angelina Jolie, Olivia Newton-John and Jane McGrath are just a few who have personally raised the awareness of breast cancer and the need for women to have regular check-ups.

Doherty's health crisis only got a public airing because of a lawsuit against her former business managers.

The former Beverly Hills, 90210 star has accused her fired managers of ignoring a medical insurance bill last year, resulting in her missing a handful of doctor check-ups.

Advertisement

When she eventually got an appointment - when her coverage returned - she was diagnosed with cancer.

She was told by doctors she could have prevented the spread of the disease if she'd had a routine check-up sooner.

It's just another reminder that cancer doesn't discriminate and every appointment counts.

Here's some celebrities who have gone public with their battle in the bid to save others:

Angelina Jolie

The actress announced she had a double mastectomy in an article in the New York Times. "I am writing about it now because I hope other women can benefit from my experience," she wrote. Jolie underwent the procedure to reduce her risk of one day developing breast cancer because she has a genetic mutation that substantially increases the risk.

Angelina Jolie. Photo / Getty Images
Angelina Jolie. Photo / Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John

The Grease star was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. She underwent a partial mastectomy and breast reconstruction and has been cancer-free for more than two decades. The battle drove her to start her own cancer and wellness centre charity. "The whole experience has given me so much understanding and compassion. I now want to help others going through the same journey," she has said.

Olivia Newton-John. Photo / Getty Images
Olivia Newton-John. Photo / Getty Images

Jane McGrath

Jane McGrath, wife of Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath. Photo / Getty Images
Jane McGrath, wife of Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath. Photo / Getty Images

The wife of Australian cricket great Glenn McGrath died in 2008 after being first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. In 2002 Glenn and Jane started the McGrath Foundation, which has been a huge success in raising funds to provide breast care nurses across Australia and education to increase breast awareness. Now the third day of the first Sydney Test cricket match each year is Jane McGrath Day to raise awareness and money for the foundation.

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue. Photo / Getty Images
Kylie Minogue. Photo / Getty Images

The I Should Be So Lucky singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005 and stepped out of the spotlight for more than a year to recover. She won high praise for repeatedly speaking publicly about her cancer diagnosis and treatment, even being credited for encouraging young women to have regular checks.

Advertisement

Sally Obermeder

Australian TV host Sally Obermeder. Photo / Getty Images
Australian TV host Sally Obermeder. Photo / Getty Images

The Daily Edition

presenter was diagnosed with stage three aggressive breast cancer in 2011, just a day before she gave birth to her first child, Annabelle. She detailed her year-long fight in a special report for

Today/Tonight

to spread the word about breast cancer awareness and is an ambassador for National Breast Cancer Foundation.

- AAP