• Question: Can cancer be inserted into someone?

    Asked by whgraceandaim to Anil, Blanka, Cees, Emma, Mike on 3 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: Emma Trantham

      Emma Trantham answered on 3 Jul 2012:

      This is a really good question and not one I know the full answer to.

      I don’t think if you put most types of cancer cells into someone else that would give them cancer – in theory their immune system would recognise the cells as being ‘foreign’ and so would destroy them.

      There is however a cancer in dogs that can be passed from one dog to another. There is also a cancer in Tasmanian devils that can be passed from one devil to another. I don’t know if we’ve found this type of cancer in humans though.

      Perhaps one of the others will know?

    • Photo: Blanka Sengerova

      Blanka Sengerova answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      I know you can put human cancer cells into mouse and make them grow into a tumour, but I agree with Emma that the immune system should work against this sort of thing. I think the mice used in these experiments are specifically made to have deficient immune systems by destroying one of their genes (called ‘knocking out’).