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Marcia Cross' Anal Cancer Might Be Linked to Husband’s Throat Cancer through HPV

Junie Sihlangu
Jun 07, 2019
01:57 P.M.
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About a year-and-a-half ago, actress Marcia Cross was diagnosed with anal cancer. She’s now speaking up about her diagnosis to break the negative stigma around it and to educate others.


On Wednesday, former Desperate Housewives star, Marcia Cross, 57, was interviewed on CBS This Morning to update her fans on her anal cancer diagnosis. She revealed that her disease and her husband’s throat cancer diagnosis could be linked. 

Cross’ husband, Tom Mahoney, 61, was diagnosed in 2009. According to the actress, her doctors informed her that “the same type of human papillomavirus (HPV) that triggered her husband’s disease could cause cancer in the anus.”


During the episode Cross, who was diagnosed in November 2017, candidly said

“I know that there are people who are ashamed. You have cancer! Do you have to then also feel ashamed like you did something bad because it took up residence in your anus? I mean, come on, really. There’s enough on your plate.”

She also revealed that she was able to handle her diagnosis with the support of a number of her girlfriends. The actress stated that she named them her “Anal Angels.”


She shared with CBS News medical contributor Dr. Jon LaPook: 

“I kept saying if this doesn’t kill me, it’s the best thing that could’ve ever happened because the experience of being loved like that? It blew my mind.”

Cross completed radiation and chemotherapy and is now in remission. Her husband went into remission, as well, but the disease returned 10 years later, and now he’s in remission again.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said HPV was the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. According to the center, around 79 million Americans are affected by it.

Besides throat and anal cancer, the virus could also affect the cervix and one’s genitals. However, the good news was that it could be prevented by using a vaccine.


The vaccine can be given to children from the age of nine. Cross shared that her twin daughters, Savannah and Eden, 12, would get their first shot within a week.

It’s advised that children or young adults get the vaccine before they become sexually active. The CDC stated that if someone doesn’t get vaccinated as a child, women should get shots up until the age of 26 and men up until the age of 21.

On March 27, People magazine published story, Cross revealed that she hoped to “help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer.” In the interview, she stated: “I’ve read a lot of cancer-survivor stories, and many people, women especially, were too embarrassed to say what kind of cancer they had. There is a lot of shame about it. I want that to stop.”


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