April 15, 2013 9:20 am

Dr. Kris Gast~ Ask the Pros

Posted in: Ask the Pros

Radiation Oncologist at Fort Smith Radiation OncologyQ: Can you catch cancer from someone else?

A: Cancer is unique to each person.  It is the individual’s cells that have become cancerous cells.  Cancer cells from one person are generally unable to live in the body of another healthy person. A healthy person’s immune system recognizes foreign cells and destroys them, including cancer cells from another person. A few cancers are caused by certain viruses. The human papilloma virus (HPV) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are two examples of viruses that are linked to certain types of cancer. You can “catch” the virus from another person but the viral infection alone usually does not lead to cancer. A weakened immune system, other infections, risk factors (such as smoking), and other health problems allow cancer to develop more readily. But, the bottom line is—cancer is not contagious.

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