The Death of Cancer
After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, A Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable--and How We Can Get ThereBook - 2015
Cancer touches everybody's life in one way or another. But most of us know very little about how the disease works, why we treat it the way we do, and the personalities whose dedication got us where we are today. For fifty years, Dr. Vincent T. DeVita Jr. has been one of those key players: he has held just about every major position in the field, and he developed the first successful chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a breakthrough the American Society of Clinical Oncologistshas called the top research advance in half a century of chemotherapy. As one of oncology's leading figures, DeVita knows what cancer looks like from the lab bench and the bedside. The Death of Cancer is his illuminating and deeply personal look at the science and the history of one of the world's most formidable diseases. In DeVita's hands, even the most complex medical concepts are comprehensible.
Cowritten with DeVita's daughter, the science writer Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, The Death of Cancer is also a personal tale about the false starts and major breakthroughs, the strong-willed oncologists who clashed with conservative administrators (and one another), and the courageous patients whose willingness to test cutting-edge research helped those oncologists find potential treatments. An emotionally compelling and informative read, The Death of Cancer is also a call to arms. DeVita believes that we're well on our way to curing cancer but that there are things we need to change in order to get there. Mortality rates are declining, but America's cancer patients are still being shortchanged--by timid doctors, by misguided national agendas, by compromised bureaucracies, and by a lack of access to information about the strengths and weaknesses of the nation's cancer centers.
With historical depth and authenticity, DeVita reveals the true story of the fight against cancer. The Death of Cancer is an ambitious, vital book about a life-and-death subject that touches us all.
From the critics
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This book is intended for the layman, for anyone who wants to know more about cancer. The author talks of experiences in the clinic, treating patients, and in the research lab, investigating medicines. He discusses how he discovered that medicines can be combined for use in chemotherapy. I like that his lab emphasized the scientific method, at a time when other research hospitals seemed unscientific.
The author is the researcher who discovered how to treat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This type of cancer was the first one for which a cure was discovered, and the author was the first to be bold enough to use the word ‘cure’ when speaking at conferences. He discusses the politics of cancer research, how a research institute can become single-minded in focussing on radiation or surgery to the exclusion of other valid types of treatment. And how politics can determine which institute gets funding, while another more ‘advanced’ institute can be left with inadequate funding (we are talking of large amounts of money, billions of dollars).
The book is well written and engaging, you will not want to put it down. Perhaps it is mostly ‘history’ and not appropriate for mention here, along with books on new technology. But the author has a very current message about the policies of the FDA, which lag far behind the advances of modern medicine. He makes his point real at the start of the book, by talking of the recent death of a friend due to the conservatism of the FDA and of hospital staff.
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