Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross reveals the HPV strain that caused her anal cancer also gave her husband throat cancer
- Marcia Cross, 57, was diagnosed with anal cancer in November 2017
- This is the same cancer than killed Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett in 2015
- She underwent six weeks of radiation therapy and two weeks of chemotherapy
- Doctors told her that the same HPV strain that caused her cancer likely also caused her husband Tom Mahoney’s throat cancer
- Cross says she wants to educate people about getting annual rectal exams to reduce the stigma surrounding anal cancer
Marcia Cross says the HPV strain that caused her anal cancer is likely the same strain that led to her husband being diagnosed with throat cancer.
The Desperate Housewives star was at a gynecologist visit in November 2017 getting an annual digital rectal exam when the doctor notice something suspicious.
She was referred to a colon and rectal surgeon and, after two biopsies, she was diagnosed with anal cancer.
Doctors later told her the cancer was likely linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the same strain had caused her husband Tom Mahoney’s throat cancer in 2009.
In an interview with CBS This Morning on Wednesday, Cross says she wants to break the stigma surrounding the disease and encourage people to get annual exams to prevent anal cancer.
‘I know there are people who are ashamed. You have cancer! You have to then also feel ashamed?’ she told medical contributor Dr Jon LaPook.
‘Like you did something bad, you know, because it took up residence in your anus? I mean, come on, really. There’s enough on your plate.’
Marcia Cross, 57, revealed on CBS This Morning that doctors say her anal cancer is linked to the same HPV strain that caused husband Tom Mahoney’s throat cancer
The Desperate Housewives star was diagnosed after a gynecologist visit in November 2017 and getting an annual digital rectal exam. She was referred to a colon and rectal surgeon and, after two biopsies, she was diagnosed with anal cancer. Pictured, left and right: Cross with husband Tom Mahoney
Cross, 57, told CBS This Morning that she credits her annual rectal exam with saving her life.
‘You can say: “Okay this is embarrassing, this is uncomfortable” and by time you know it, it’s over,’ she said. ‘I mean lots of things in life are not fun. But you can bear it.’
Anal cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the tissues of the anus.
It is the same disease that killed Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett in 2015 at 62 years old.
Symptoms include bleeding from the anus or rectum, discharge from the anus, pain around at the anus and a change in bowel habits.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 8,300 people are expected to be diagnosed in 2019 and nearly 1,300 will die.
Cross admitted that being comfortable enough to say the word ‘anus’ out loud didn’t happen overnight.
‘Even for me, it took a while,’ she said. ‘Anus, anus, anus! Ha. You just have to get used to it.’
The risk of being diagnosed is about one in 500 with a slightly higher risk for women than for men.
Although nearly half of anal cancer cases are detected in the earliest stages, but the five-year relative survival rate is a bit low at 67 percent compared to other cancers.
This is the same cancer than killed Farrah Fawcett in 2015 at 62 years old. Pictured, left to right: Charlie’s Angels stars Jaclyn Smith, Fawcett and Kate Jackson
Cross underwent six weeks of radiation therapy and two weeks of chemotherapy. In a photo posted in September 2018 (pictured), she captioned it saying she was happily post-cancer but sad to have lost her hair through treatment
Treatment options for anal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Cross underwent six weeks of radiation and two weeks of chemotherapy to treat her cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that HPV is the cause of 90 percent of anal cancers.
HPV has been linked to numerous other cancers – including cervical, prostate and throat cancer – and it is spread through sex or oral sex with someone who has the virus, or skin-to-skin contact.
Ten years, earlier in 2009, Cross’s husband Tom Mahoney was diagnosed with throat cancer.
He sought treatment and entered remission, but the cancer returned around the same time that Cross was diagnosed.
She told CBS This Morning that doctors believe both cancers were caused by the same HPV strain, and that she didn’t know the virus was linked to cancer prior to her diagnosis.
In an interview on CBS This Morning (pictured), she said she plans to vaccinate her twin daughters, Eden and Savannah, 12, with the HPV vaccine this month or next month
Cross says she hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to speak to their doctor if they believe they have symptoms of anal cancer. Pictured: Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, center, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis, right, on ABC’s Desperate Housewives, November 2011
In the US, the HPV vaccine is offered in two or three doses over the course of six months to girls who are between 11 and 12, with a catch-up series recommended no later than age 26.
Cross has twin daughters, Eden and Savannah, 12, who will be receiving their first dose later this month or next month.
She says she is recovering well and hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to speak to their doctor if they believe they have symptoms of anal cancer.
‘I’m feeling back to normal though it’s a new normal,’ Cross told CBS This Morning.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted. I’m the girl who goes to the bathroom now and I go ‘Yes! It’s great what my body can do! I’m so grateful.”
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