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Marcia Cross Opens Up About Her Battle With Anal Cancer To End The Shame Surrounding The Disease

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Marcia Cross is best known for her many roles in daytime television and for playing Bree Van de Kamp in Desperate Housewives.

She recently sat for an interview with People to discuss her fight with a form of cancer that many are too embarrassed to discuss: anal cancer.


Marcia told People that she wanted to have a frank conversation about anal cancer to help end the stigma associated with the diagnosis.

"I want to help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer. 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."


Cross' cancer was discovered during a routine checkup with her gynecologist in November of 2017. She was sent directly to a colorectal surgeon for a consultation after the cancer was discovered, where they did two biopsies to verify the cancer diagnosis.

She then started a 6 week course of radiation and chemotherapy. Marcia talked about the decision to go with medication over surgery:

"Surgery wasn't recommended, which was a relief. You want to preserve sphincter muscles if possible. Having woken up to its importance, I am now a big fan of the anus!"

Cross has shared parts of her journey through treatment on Instagram, including a thankful selfie when her hair first started growing back.


Fans on Twitter were quick to assure Marcia that losing her hair hadn't affected her beauty in the slightest and they were just glad she was healthy.




Cross has now been in remission for almost a year, and her doctor assures her that there is a low chance of the cancer reappearing. She said she is thankful everything is back in good working order:

"Every time I go to the bathroom, I think, 'That's awesome! Thank you, body.'"

Marcia emphasized the importance of knowing the symptoms of anal cancer, and of following up with a doctor any time something doesn't seem quite right:

"If something doesn't feel right, listen to your body and talk to your doctor," says Cross. "Don't let it go. It's a very curable cancer if caught early, which mine was."

According to The National Cancer Institute:

"Anal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the anus."

Symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum.
  • Pain or pressure in the area around the anus.
  • Itching or discharge from the anus.
  • A lump near the anus.
  • A change in bowel habits.

Many things can affect a patient's prognosis and their options for treatment. Catching it during an early stage greatly improves treatment outcomes, so talk to your doctor if you feel anything out of the ordinary!