Marcia Cross’s cancer and her husband Tom Mahoney’s were caused by same disease, HPV

Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives star
Marcia Cross talks about her anal cancer diagnosis. Pic credit: @ImageCollect/StarMaxWorldwide

Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross revealed during an appearance on CBS This Morning Wednesday that her anal cancer was likely caused by the same sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that caused her husband Tom Mahoney’s throat cancer.

Cross’s husband Tom Mahoney was under treatment for throat cancer in 2009 and it went into remission. Last year, around 10 years after her husband’s case, Cross was diagnosed with anal cancer that was likely caused by the same HPV.

Cross, 57, revealed on CBS This Morning that her doctors suspected her anal cancer and Mahoney’s throat cancer were both caused by HPV.

Although her cancer is now in remission, she decided to openly talk about it to desensitize the public about cancers caused by HPV and encourage people to get the vaccine.

HPV can be transmitted through physical contact, including sexual intercourse. It can also cause cancers of the genitals and the cervix. According to the CDC, more than 90 percent of anal cancer cases are due to HPV.

She said it was necessary to create awareness about HPV so people will stop being embarrassed about it. She urged people to get the examination they need for prevention and early diagnosis.

Early immunization can also prevent the HPV that causes cancer. Early diagnosis also increases the chance of successful treatment.

Medical experts recommend early immunization of children as young of 9. Cross told This Morning that her twin daughters Savanna and Eden, who are 12 years old, will soon get their first shots.

She said she had no idea she had anal cancer until she went to her gynecologist for routine digital rectal examination about a year and a half ago.

“I was so not thinking anything was wrong because I didn’t have any symptoms,” Cross said. “She gave me an exam and came around and said, ‘Well, I just want you to know, whatever it is it’s curable.'”

“It was like — what?! What are you talking about?” she added.

Cross was thankful for the support she received from friends and family during her treatment. Treatment included radiation and chemotherapy.

“What I had was a bevy of girlfriends. I called them my ‘anal angels,'” she said. “You know, I kept saying, ‘If this doesn’t kill me, it’s like the best thing that could have ever happened.’ Because the experience of being loved like that — it blew my mind.”

She is now feeling much better and getting “back to normal” after treatment. Cross admitted that she felt ashamed and at first and couldn’t bring herself to say “anal.”  But she soon got used to it and overcame her embarrassment.

“I know there are people who are ashamed… [but] do you have to also feel ashamed like you did something bad… because it took up residence in your anus?” she said.

Marcia Cross is best known for her role as Bree Van de Kamp on Desperate Housewives.

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