One in two of us will develop cancer at some point in our lives and yet many of us don't understand how cancers arise. How many different kinds of cancer are there? What treatments are available? What does the future hold in terms of developing new therapies? This book demystifies cancer by explaining the underlying cell and molecular biology in a clear and accessible style. It answers the questions commonly asked about cancer such as what causes cancer and how cancer develops. It explains how DNA makes proteins and how mutations can corrupt those proteins. It also gives an overview of current therapies and how treatments may advance over the next decades, as well as explaining what actions we can take to help prevent cancer developing. Understanding Cancer is an accessible and engaging introduction to cancer biology for any interested reader.
1. Painting a clear picture
2. Ancient history
3. Counting cancer
4. From DNA to protein
5. What is a cell?
7. Causes of cancer that can be controlled
8. Causes of cancer that are difficult to control, accidents … and other things
9. Treating cancer by chemotherapy
10. The road to utopia?
Robin Hesketh has been a member of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Selwyn College for over 40 years, working on cancer biology. He has published over 100 research papers, a textbook on cancer (Introduction to Cancer Biology, Cambridge, 2013) and popular science books (Betrayed by Nature, Palgrave, 2012). He has spoken on cancer and has run a blog on the topic of cancer for the general public since 2011.
"How often have we attended a lecture or opened a book to find that within minutes we are smothered by complicated facts that are way beyond our understanding? There has been no simple introduction. The speaker/author is so involved in the topic that they could no longer see out of the intellectual hole that they had dug for themselves. If ever a book was written to dispel this fault, then this is the one, as Robin Hesketh has managed to provide a remarkably clear and readable account of the science behind cellular behaviour and faults that lead to the development of cancer. The book reads like a novel, and I found that I could hardly put it down. The literary style is at times light-hearted with humorous analogies."
– Robert Whitaker, anatomist, University of Cambridge
"Understanding Cancer presents a carefully crafted, clear and concise book on aspects of cancer; a disease of importance to us all. Most readers will come to Robin Hesketh's book with questions about cancer. Understanding Cancer will not disappoint. The most usual questions and answers are presented in the first chapter and ways of reducing the risk of some cancers are suggested later. This book puts cancer into a historical and very interesting context; it then explores cancer, its biochemistry and functioning in an approachable way. Information is given about the latest treatments and the science behind them. This very readable book contains something for everyone. It is positioned, and very adequately fills, the gap between personal accounts by patients of their experiences, and more advanced medical and cell biology texts. Understanding Cancer is well researched and greatly recommended."
– David Archer, schools liaison officer, British Society for Cell Biology
"Understanding Cancer is a fascinating and engaging perspective on the evolution of cancer research and treatment. Dr Hesketh provides insight into the key clinicians and scientists, following their discoveries in clinical care and research. He overviews the likely mutagenic causes of cancer spurring on the oncogenic transitions leading to a cancer cell that can replicate uncontrollably, highlights new avenues in cancer research, and conveys that preventive measures and advances in early cancer detection could make an impact on cancer incidence and patient outcomes/survival. This book is certainly a triumph and a must-read for all current and future scientists, physicians at any stage of their professional careers and anyone interested in cancer research and the quest for effective anti-cancer treatments."
– David Lyden, cancer researcher and paediatric oncologist, Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University