But treatment for anal cancer is often very effective, and most patients with this cancer can be cured. Fawcett's openness about her anal cancer, which included a documentary about her experience that aired in May, raised awareness about the disease.
"Her openness and honesty about this disease has probably helped to heal a lot of people. So she may have done a significant service by doing that," Brooks said. "You've got a woman who was known as a sex symbol who had a great deal of inner character and helped a great deal of other people."
ABC News' Joanna Schaffhausen contributed to this report.