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Name: Jessica T.
Status: Student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001

If a person who has cancer dies exactly what happens to the cancer and how long does it take for the cancer to die? In addition, can the cancer leave a persons body and the dead host survive for a period of time? If so, how long is this period of time?

Cancer cells are part of the person's body and die with him/her as far as I know. But if some of the cells are extracted they can be kept alive in tissue culture. Dr's might want to study the particular cancer cells. An example of this are HeLa cells that were extracted in the 1950's from a woman named Henrietta Lacks. She died of a very aggressive from of breast cancer. Her cells have been kept in tissue culture ever since. They have probably mutated many times since then and probably don't resemble her much any more.


Cancer cells die with the person at about the same rate as the person's normal body cells.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Science Education
Office of Science
Department of Energy

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