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.
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 that 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 so they can prevent disease.
'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
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