Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross has opened up about surviving anal cancer and how she hopes to educate the public and destigmatise the disease, which is usually caused by the HPV virus, the same virus associated with cervical cancer.
"It’s not a job that anyone really wants," the actress told Us Weekly at Farrah Fawcett Foundation's Tex-Mex Fiesta event in Beverly Hills last week.
"It’s not particularly glamorous to be the face of anal cancer."
WATCH: Marcia Cross opens up about battle with cancer
The 57-year-old also claimed that she has a newfound love for that part of her body, and encouraged others to appreciate theirs too.
"I want to tell you that I now love and cherish my anus and you should all love and cherish yours,” said Cross. "We should all stop being embarrassed about it because we’re gifted with one beautiful anus it does an amazing job."
According to the Cancer Council, "About 80% of anal cancers are caused by a very common infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can affect the surface of different areas, including the anus, cervix, vulva, vagina and penis. Unless they are tested, most people won’t know they have HPV as it usually doesn’t cause symptoms."
Last year, Marcia took to Instagram to announce that she had beaten cancer, and three days later she revealed that it had been anal cancer.
"I am ecstatically alive and what interests me post cancer is #AUTHENTICY. #VULNERABILITY. #TRANSPARENCY. And of course #LOVE. On that note, if you were wondering, I had #analcancer. I know, right?!" she wrote in the caption.
The actress has since been doing her best to remove the stigma of the disease. She found out she had the cancer thanks to a routine screening procedure and now urges others to be aware and similarly proactive.
"Think about [your anus] every time it works for you and there’s nothing to be ashamed of," she told Us Weekly at the event for Fawcett, who died of anal cancer in 2009.
"Educate yourselves on the HPV virus — that’s really the bigger calling to me because that causes 5 per cent of our cancers and we all need to be up to speed on all of that."
In June, Marcia told the publication that her 12-year-old twin daughters with husband Tom Mahoney were set to receive the HPV vaccination that month. Tom also suffered from throat cancer due to HPV.
According to Australia's Cancer Council, early symptoms of anal cancer may include the following: • blood or mucus in stools (faeces) or on toilet paper • itching, discomfort or pain around the anus • a feeling of fullness, discomfort or pain in the rectum • a lump near the edge of the anus • ulcers around the anus • difficulty controlling bowels.
It should be noted that other, less serious conditions can cause these or similar symptoms. If you have any concerns or questions please speak to your doctor.
To learn more about anal cancer, read this information from the Cancer Council or see your GP. To find out more about the HPV virus, click here.