Her death was confirmed on Thursday afternoon by her agent, who said: “It is with great regret that we announce the death of Kay Purcell at the age of 57.
“Kay was a very valued client... We send sympathy and love to her family and friends.”
Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, and regularly used social media to share her experiences of the disease.
Earlier this year, she was told that she had incurable liver cancer.
In the early days of her career, Kay played the small role of Carmel Morgan in Emmerdale, returning to the ITV soap in 2001, where she played Cynthia Daggert, eventually leaving a year later.
From there, she appeared in multiple children’s TV series including Bernard’s Watch and My Parents Are Aliens, before joining the cast of high school drama Waterloo Road as dinner lady Candice Smilie.
In 2010, she began playing careworker Gina Conway in Tracy Beaker Returns, a role which she reprised in the spin-off series Tracy Beaker Survival Files and The Dumping Ground.
More recently, Kay played school teacher Mrs Rennison in the CBBC sitcom So Awkward.
Her final role was in the 2020 mini-series When It Rains, in which she appeared in five episodes.
Shortly after Kay’s death was announced publicly, Tracy Beaker star Dani Harmer reacted to the news by sharing a broken heart emoji on her Twitter page.
Kay is survived by her three children, Ashley, Shemar and Indika, and her grandson, Levon.