Health & Spirit

'Desperate Housewives' actress advocates for HPV vaccination after learning the STD caused her anal cancer

Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

First it was her husband. Then it was herself.

But actress Marcia Cross is determined it won't be their daughters.

The "Desperate Housewives" star is speaking out about the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV.

Cross' husband, actor Tom Mahoney, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2009, and Cross found out a year and a half ago she had anal cancer.

But she's hoping to prevent the same fate for their 12-year-old twins.

"My girls don't know it, but they're up for their first shot at the end of the school year," the actress told "CBS This Morning" recently.

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That shot will likely be of the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9, which was previously recommended for ages 9-26 but was expanded in October 2018 to include ages 27-45. According to, Gardasil 9 is the only HPV vaccine available for use in the United States.

Cross said that doctors suspect her and her husband's cancers were caused by the same type of HPV.

About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. About 14 million people become infected each year. HPV is so common that almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life if they don't get the vaccine.

The CDC recommends all kids ages 11 or 12 get vaccinated, with catch-up vaccines for boys and men through age 21 and for girls and women through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.


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