Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross said her 12-year-old daughters will kick off their summer vacation this year with a trip to the doctor's office to get vaccinated against HPV, the sexually transmitted infection that has been linked to several cancers, including the types Cross and her husband have faced.
“My girls don’t know it, but they’re up for their first shot at the end of the school year,” Cross, 57, told CBS This Morning.
It was the star’s husband, Tom Mahoney, who was first diagnosed with cancer first in 2009. He began treatment for throat cancer which eventually led to remission. But about a year-and-a-half ago, Cross learned that she had anal cancer, which she said she learned could be linked to her husband’s through HPV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million Americans are infected with some type of HPV, which can cause cancers and genital warts while for others it may go away on its own. It’s spread through having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has the virus, even when the person is not exhibiting symptoms. Patients who have HPV may not know they do until years after infection.
HPV can cause cervical cancer as well as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus, and it can also cause cancer in the back of the throat. Vaccination against HPV can help protect against these health issues, with the CDC recommending the first shot be given at age 11 or 12.
After several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Cross, who is now in remission, told the news outlet that she is “back to feeling normal though it’s a new normal.” She is currently speaking out about anal cancer in an effort to encourage others to talk about their diagnosis.
“I know there are people who are ashamed,” she told the news outlet. “You have cancer! You have to then also feel ashamed? 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.”