Elizabeth Hurley opens up about her fight to end breast cancer: 'Breast cancer doesn't discriminate'

Elizabeth Hurley is opening up about her decades-long mission to find a cure for breast cancer.

The actress has been working with Estee Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign since the early '90s, when she lost her grandmother to the disease, and she's brightening the spotlight on the devastating cancer once again for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

SEE ALSO: John Legend says that 'we have the responsibility to do better as men' when it comes to sexual harassment

"Breast cancer doesn't discriminate," she told AOL Entertainment over the phone this month. "It doesn't just happen in October -- it happens 365 days of the year, no matter where you come from. It'll go for you at any time. It's a year-round thing for us, but October is the month where we're particularly vocal about it. Women are being diagnosed in America every two minutes! 1 in 8 women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Regardless of great progress, it's still a problem."

Indeed, there is still a long way to go -- and Hurley says the key to finding a cure could be as simple as simple "needing more funding -- and, for that reason, the "Royals" actress is careful to get too excited about the progress that's been made over the last 25 years. That being said, there's no denying that a lot of positive change has happened.

See photos of Elizabeth Hurley:

26 PHOTOS
Elizabeth Hurley out and about
See Gallery
Elizabeth Hurley out and about
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Elizabeth Hurley attends the 25th Anniversary of the Estee Lauder Companies UK's Breast Cancer Campaign at the US Ambassadors Residence, Winfield House, Regents Park on October 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Estee Lauder Companies)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Elizabeth Hurley attends the 25th Anniversary of the Estee Lauder Companies UK's Breast Cancer Campaign at the US Ambassadors Residence, Winfield House, Regents Park on October 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Estee Lauder Companies)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Elizabeth Hurley attends the 'Future Dreams' Fundraising Lunch at The Savoy Hotel on October 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - OCTOBER 05: Elizabeth Hurley visits 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 5, 2017 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - OCTOBER 05: Elizabeth Hurley attends Bloomingdale's Century City Appearance by Elizabeth Hurley, Global Brand Ambassador for the Estee Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign at Bloomingdale's Century City on October 5, 2017 in Century City, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Bloomingdale's)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Alan Carr (L) and Elizabeth Hurley, representing Walking With The Wounded/Wounded Veterans Fund, make a trade at BGC Charity Day on September 11, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for BGC Partners )
MUMBAI, INDIA - MAY 19, 2011: Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne at launch of his brand Spinners life style collection in India at Reliance Trends in Mumbai on Thursday -. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: George Osborne (L) and Elizabeth Hurley attend the Woodside Gallery Dinner in benefit of Elton John AIDS Foundation in partnership with BVLGARI at Woodside on June 22, 2017 in Windsor, England. (Photo by David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for BVLGARI)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Elizabeth Hurley attending the V&A summer party 2017 at The Victoria and Albert Museum on June 21, 2017 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Peter / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Peter / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Actress Elizabeth Hurley attends the 2017 Breast Cancer Research Foundation Hot Pink Party at Park Avenue Armory on May 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 21: Elizabeth Hurley and Damian Hurley attend An American in Paris - press night at Dominion Theatre on March 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ricky Vigil/GC Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 08: Elizabeth Hurley during the World Premiere of 'THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES' at the Curzon Mayfair on March 08, 2017 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Peter / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Peter / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 16: Actress Elizabeth Hurley attends An Unforgettable Evening at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 16, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Elizabeth Hurley is seen at LAX on February 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by starzfly/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 15: Elizabeth Hurley arrives at the Dsquared2 show during Milan Men's Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017/18 on January 15, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/Getty Images for Dsquared2)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Elizabeth Hurley sighting on December 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Elizabeth Hurley at the Ivy restaurant for an intimate Kylie Minogue performnce on December 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Elizabeth Hurley attends an intimate performance with Kylie Minogue at The Ivy to kick off The Ivy 100 Centenary celebrations on December 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Ivy)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Damian Hurley and Elizabeth Hurley seen on the streets of Manhattan on December 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
Elizabeth Hurley attending the Letters Live Black Tie Gala Dinner, at the V&A, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2016. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: Elizabeth Hurley attends a VIP dinner to celebrate The Animal Ball 2016 presented by Elephant Family at Sexy Fish on November 22, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/ Getty Images for Elephant Family)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Elizabeth Hurley visits 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 17, 2016 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Elizabeth Hurley attends The London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at The Old Vic Theatre on November 13, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Elizabeth Hurley and Evgeny Lebedev attend Centrepoint At The Palace at Kensington Palace on November 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Patrick Cox and Elizabeth Hurley attending the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards on October 31, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Milan/GC Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Thinking back to her knowledge of the disease when her grandmother initially revealed she had breast cancer, Hurley calls the difference between now and then "extraordinary."

"We didn't know anything about breast cancer when my grandmother was diagnosed," Hurley explained. "In fact, she didn't even tell us she'd been diagnosed initially. She found the lump herself, and it took her over a year to go to the doctor because she was that scared. She didn't discuss her treatment with us, and we didn't really know anything."

It's that exact fear that Hurley wants to encourage women to overcome, so that they can willfully either check themselves or go to a doctor for an examination. One thing that encourages women to get checked is when well-known women share their own stories.

Most recently, "Veep" star Julia Louis-Drefyus revealed that she had ben diagnosed with breast cancer, making her that 1 in 8 women who receives such a diagnosis in their lifetime.

"I personally really commend someone like her who had the courage to speak about her personal health issues publicly," Hurley said to us. "It's not a choice everyone can make, but I believe that when it happens, it does inspire women around the world to check their own breasts more regularly. It also helps people know that they're not alone and that people are there for you. You don't need to keep it hidden in secret."

Famous women who have battled breast cancer:

11 PHOTOS
10 celebrities get real about breast cancer
See Gallery
10 celebrities get real about breast cancer

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The 56-year-old was most recently diagnosed with breast cancer soon after the 2017 Emmy Awards. She confirmed the diagnosis on Instagram, quickly calling attention to the plight of other women who don't have health care. 

"1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I'm the one. The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality," she wrote in the post

Angelina Jolie 

In 2013, at age 37, the actress wrote a New York Times piece about her experiences with breast cancer and the BRCA1 gene. She had an 87% risk of breast cancer, 50% risk of ovarian cancer, so she took preventative action, including a double mastectomy and the later removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex," she wrote.

Continuing in the New York Times, But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

  

Cynthia Nixon

At 40, the acclaimed actress was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram in 2006. She decided to keep it private for a year after her diagnosis. 

At age 12, Nixon watched her mother battle breast cancer and knew the importance of preventative care. 

"I’ve learned that if you catch breast cancer early, the chances are overwhelmingly good that you’ll be cured. So my attitude, which very much mirrored my mother’s, was this wasn’t a big deal," the star said, according to Marie Claire

Giuliana Rancic 

In 2011, after the diagnosis of an early-stage tumor, the host underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

She said to Glamour: "....My doctor said, "We have great news in one breast and bad news in the other. You need to start thinking about a mastectomy." That had been the furthest thing from my mind. I knew nothing about breast cancer before this happened to me, and I thought mastectomy meant stage three or four cancer. I didn't have a big family history of it. I just never thought it would happen to me. I really didn't."

Shannen Doherty

The former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star was diagnosed in 2015 and regularly documented her battle on social media. After going through chemotherapy, she announced she's in remission in April 2017. 

"Moments. They happen. Today was and is a moment. What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting. As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time," she shared on social media

Sheryl Crow

In 2006, the singer publicly announced she was battling the disease after she underwent "minimally invasive surgery." 

"I am inspired by the brave women who have faced this battle before me and grateful for the support of family and friends," she said according to ABC News

Olivia Newton-John

In 2017, the 68-year-old singer and actress revealed she was once again battling breast cancer. After her first diagnosis in 1992, she underwent a partial mastectomy as well as chemo. 

"I am really grateful for and touched by the worldwide outpouring of love and concern. Thank you. I am feeling good and enjoying total support from my family and friends, along with a team of wellness and medical practitioners both here in the US and at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia. I’m totally confident that my new journey will have a positive success story to inspire others!” she said exclusively to People in June

Melissa Etheridge

Because of the singer's family history, Etheridge was "vigilant" about examinations before eventually being diagnosed in 2004. 

"I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life. It excites me every day when I can wake up and feel energy and feel good and feel purpose. The changes I made were big and not easy. Sugar is a drug, incredibly addictive. That one change can make a huge difference in your life," she said to ABC News in 2015

Christina Applegate

At 36 years old, the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. After biopsies and a lumpectomy, as well as radiation, she tested positive for the BRCA gene.

Later, she underwent a double mastectomy. "It came on really fast. It was one of those things that I woke up and it felt so right," she says. "It just seemed like, 'I don't want to have to deal with this again. I don't want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just want to be done with this.' & I was just going to let them go," she said according to CNN.

Rita Wilson

In 2015, it became known that the actress was battling breast cancer and underwent both a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. 

Since then, she's been outspoken about encouraging others to be vigilant about routine checks.

"Last week, with my husband by my side, and with the love and support of family and friends, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma. I am recovering and most importantly, expected to make a full recovery. Why? Because I caught this early, have excellent doctors and because I got a second opinion," she said according to People

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Another way to spread awareness is simply by starting a conversation, which Hurley did recently when she surprised several Transatlantic Delta flights by handing out pink ribbons and hearing passengers' emotional stories about how breast cancer has affected either them personally or their loved ones.

It's that pink ribbon that, in Hurley's mind, perfectly represents the progress that has been made around the world.

"When I started working for the Breast Cancer Campaign, the pink ribbon had only just been invented, and no one was talking about breast cancer," she remembered. "Now, it's a ubiquitous sign of hope around the world that reminds women that research is being done on their behalf." 

"Mortality rates have decreased by 38 percent since the late '80s," she continued. "Treatments are getting better, and now we feel 25 years on that awareness is very high, so now is the time to go in and end this thing. Let's put an end to breast cancer."

More from AOL.com:
Daya explains how her latest single, 'New,' represents 'a huge step forward' for her
Gina Rodriguez on making her family a priority, being starstruck and Kate Hudson's 'dope' Halloween party
Rita Ora on acceptance, her second album and why she feels like she's 'been reborn'

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.