Direct Cremate

Medical Conditions That Can Prevent or Delay Direct Cremation

Will a medical condition prevent you from arranging a direct cremation? Learn about several conditions that could cause delays or prevent cremation.
Medical Conditions That Can Prevent or Prolong Direct Cremation
Medical Conditions That Can Prevent or Prolong Direct Cremation

When people cite their reasons for choosing direct cremation, either for themselves or a loved one, usually convenience is a big factor. In addition to being easier to arrange, direct cremation is also a fairly quick process most of the time. The typical timeline for direct cremations is just 1-2 weeks. 

That said, there are things that can delay a direct cremation. Among those are certain medical conditions at the time of death. There are even some medical conditions that could prevent the deceased from being cremated at all. Keep reading to learn what those medical conditions are and how they can affect the direct cremation process. 

Cancer That’s Treated With Radiation

Cancer patients that prefer cremation should know that their treatments could impact disposition. Whenever a person receives radiation treatments there’s always concern over how other people could be affected because the patient could emit radiation. Treatments that involve radiation include:

  • Radiopharmaceuticals that are administered through an IV
  • Internal radiation therapy through an implant (seed, wire, balloon, etc.)
  • External beam radiation therapy

After death there is the potential for contamination if the body is cremated. Contamination could be dangerous for the crematorium staff and leave traces of radiation in the facility. For that reason, there’s often a waiting period if the person received radiation shortly before their death. How long the delay will be depends on the type of radiation therapy that the person received. 

With external beam radiation therapy there should be little to no delay since radiation isn’t inside the body. The delay will be around two weeks if radiopharmaceuticals were used. If a radiation implant was used, cremation may not be possible. It all depends on when the implant was placed. 


Ebola is a highly infectious deadly disease. So much so, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has come up with guidelines for safely handling the remains of ebola patients. The recommendation is usually to cremate the body instead of burying it, although either is possible. 

However, when a person dies with ebola there could be a short delay in the cremation because extra precautions need to be taken when handling and transporting the body. But because it’s recommended that the body not be cleaned and medical devices not be removed, any additional time it takes to get the body to the crematorium may be negated by reduced time for conducting the cremation. 

Unknown Medical Condition

In order to carry out a cremation, a crematorium needs approval. That involves getting a signed death certificate from the medical examiner or a physician. However, if the death certificate lists the cause of death as unknown it could delay or prevent approval for cremation. While it is rare, this could be the case if the deceased were sick, and they aren’t sure what illness caused the death. An autopsy may be necessary to determine the cause and get approval to cremate, which will delay disposition. 

If a loved one died with one of the medical conditions above Direct Cremate can help you arrange funeral services. You can give us a call or text to discuss what steps will need to be taken.