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What is the role of somatic cells in cancer?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Somatic cells make up more than 99 percent of the body. Somatic cells are living, changing cells: They grow, divide, and die. As long as you are alive, your body replaces these cells continuously. During your lifetime virtually all the somatic cells in your body -- except brain and nerve cells -- will be replaced thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times. Your stomach lining, for example, is in an almost continual state of cell division, making new cells every single day. With so many cell divisions continually occurring throughout the body, it stands to reason that occasionally there will be a mistake -- a mutation. Most cancers stem from mutations of somatic cells.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.