21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Understanding Cancer and its Treatments,
This review is from: The Emperor of All Maladies (Hardcover)
First, I have to declare an interest in the subject - I have been diagnosed with leukemia since 2003, have gone through five chemotherapy regimes and remission for me only seems to last months rather than years. However I am (morbidly) fascinated by the subject and here is a book written by a doctor and researcher in a plain English literary style that does not confuse the general reader with too many scientific names or jargon. Dr Mukherjee is certainly to be congratulated for producing such a lucid and understandable account of the disease. Starting from records of cancer in early history, the book concentrates on the developments of detecting and understanding cancer and its treatment, with special emphasis on the stirling work performed by Sid Farber after the Second World War and the rapid development of treatments to first try to control the disease, up until the last twenty years with the development of specialised monoclonal antibodies to actually target specific types of cancer.
The subject itself is fascinating with such topics as how discoveries of scrotal cancer among boy chimney sweeps in the 19th Century have led to the cause of lung cancer being convincingly stated in the 1950's and the adverse reaction this would have on the powerful tobacco industry. Everyone has probably heard of a "Pap-smear" but who knows where the word "Pap" originated? The book describes the work of George Papanicolaou, over many decades in developing the smear technique but only realised in 1950 that it could not detect cancer - but could find its precursor so allowing cervical cancer to be treated in a preventative manner before the disease took hold. There are far too many highlights to mention in this brief review. However, one particular item that makes this book stand head and shoulder above anything else are the human stories recounted, from the author's own diagnosis of his patient Carla with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and her successful treatment to the description of treatment that Maggie Jencks, a Scottish landscape artist, received for acute myeloid leukemia which she described as being woken up mid-flight on a jumbo-jet and thrown out of the plane with no parachute into a landscape without a map. The author does not overlook the experiences of the patients but keeps them prominently throughout the text.
This book really is a pleasure to read (macabre as that may sound), an unsentimental yet humane book of the worst of all diseases one might suffer.
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Initial post: 25 Nov 2011 14:28:09 GMT
emma who reads a lot says:
Thanks for your review - I wondered what someone who was actually ill might make of the book, because I found it a 'pleasure' and like you, wondered at that. All good wishes to you.
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