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Dictionary of Cancer Terms

View in Spanish: Telomerasa

Telomerase (teh-LOH-mer-ays)
An enzyme in cells that helps keep them alive by adding DNA to telomeres (the ends of chromosomes). Each time a cell divides, the telomeres lose a small amount of DNA and become shorter. Over time, the chromosomes become damaged and the cells die. Telomerase helps keep this from happening. Cancer cells usually have more telomerase than most normal cells.



 
 
Source: National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms, available at www.cancer.gov/dictionary.