Betrayed by Nature: The War on Cancer

Overview

Seven million people die from cancer each year around the world, and many more are impacted by this universal scourge. In Betrayed by Nature, research scientist and lecturer Robin Hesketh demystifies the nature of cancer.

Hesketh provides a concise and comprehensive history of both the science and the medical advances made over the decades. He takes the reader on a riveting tour of human biology; he explains how cancers start, what is meant by ‘a mutation’, and how mutations can...

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Betrayed by Nature: The War on Cancer

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Overview

Seven million people die from cancer each year around the world, and many more are impacted by this universal scourge. In Betrayed by Nature, research scientist and lecturer Robin Hesketh demystifies the nature of cancer.

Hesketh provides a concise and comprehensive history of both the science and the medical advances made over the decades. He takes the reader on a riveting tour of human biology; he explains how cancers start, what is meant by ‘a mutation’, and how mutations can make cells grow abnormally and spread around our bodies.

 Drawing on the latest discoveries from the Human Genome Project, Hesketh reveals the strides being made in understanding this malevolent disease and makes accessible the science of today's treatments. Betrayed by Nature looks forward to the day when many cancers can be treated readily and effectively. With cancer afflicting one in three people worldwide, this is an illuminating and optimistic look at the past, present, and future of cancer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] delight...because of the overall excellence of this work, it is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wishes to update his knowledge of this disease...Essential.”--Choice

"Thoroughly informative and highly enjoyable to read."--The Biologist

"An informative, optimistic tour of the science of cancer . . . a solid account of how cancer works, how it has been combated and what the future holds for its treatment." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Dr. Hesketh brings an expert’s easy familiarity and depth to this comprehensive, at times almost affectionate, look at a deadly adversary. He tells us what cancer is, what causes it, what we can do to prevent it and how we are systematically battling the disease on many fronts. "-- William Hanson, MD, author of The Edge of Medicine

"In Betrayed by Nature, Robin Hesketh melds medicine, science and history to create a clear and highly readable explanation of the complexities of cancer."--John P. Moore, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medical College

Library Journal
Cambridge biochemistry professor Hesketh provides a chatty overview of our understanding of cancer. He starts with how physicians and scientists since the ancient Egyptians have come to discover what we now know about cancer and its causes. He covers the gamut of cancer triggers, such as tobacco and ultraviolet radiation, as well as preventatives like fiber. Other topics include cell mutation, cancer genes, tumors, DNA sequencing, and personalized medicine. Incorporating quotes by a range of sources, e.g., molecular biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick and television show The Simpsons, Hesketh writes in an amiable tone and furnishes clear explanations of the science involved in cancer research. VERDICT Though not for casual readers, this book will re-create for interested laypersons the experience of listening to their favorite college professor lecture. Highly recommended for readers who want a clear understanding of the genetics and cellular biology of cancer and projections for the future of research and treatment.—Elizabeth Williams, Manatee Cty. Lib. Syst., Bradenton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Informative, optimistic tour of the science of cancer. Hesketh (Biochemistry/Cambridge Univ.), familiar to lay audiences from BBC radio and TV, opens Part 1 with a capsule history of cancer, ranging from papyrus records of ancient Egypt to the scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century. He follows with a look at the distribution of different types of cancers around the world and what the data suggests about cancer's causes. Matters get technical in Part 2, but the author assumes little previous knowledge on the part of readers; he takes time to explain DNA, RNA, genes, chromosomes and how some genes mutate into cancer genes. In Part 3 he tackles cancer cells and the behavior of tumors. Throughout Parts 2 and 3, relatively simple diagrams and some black-and-white photographs help to clarify the technical discussions. For most readers, the final section—"Where Are We? Where Are We Going?"—will be of greatest interest. Here Hesketh explains how genome sequencing has begun to change how cancers are diagnosed and classified, and the promise this holds for therapy. We are at the beginning, he writes, of the era of personalized medicine, which holds the promise that we will someday be able to detect the threat of cancer long before it manifests itself by sequencing an individual's genome and using that information to design an individualized therapeutic strategy. The back matter includes a helpful glossary and two delightful odes to cancer, one written in 1964 by the noted geneticist (and cancer patient) J.B.S. Haldane and the other a modern version by Hesketh. Despite the author's occasionally breezy style—"cancer is jolly complicated"—this is not a book to breeze through, but rather a solid account of how cancer works, how it has been combated and what the future holds for its treatment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230338487
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Series: MacSci Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBIN HESKETH, PhD, has been a member of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of the Selwyn College for over 25 years. He has spoken widely in the press on cancer and has published in the leading clinical journals, including Nature. He lives in Cambridge, England.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Part I History and Causes

1 A Short Stroll through the History of Cancer 3

2 Counting Cancers and Comparing Causes 23

Part II Genes and Cells: From Normal to Cancer

3 A Bit of Dogma: Atoms, Molecules, Genes, and Proteins 61

4 What Is a Cell? 83

5 "Cancer Genes": What Are They? 109

6 A Case of Corruption 137

Part III Cancer Cells and Whole Genomes

7 Tumors: What Are They? 149

8 Let's Sequence Your DNA 181

Part IV Detection and Treatment

9 Where Are We? Where Are We Going? 199

Glossary 225

Gene Names 231

Sources and Resources 233

Odes to Cancer 237

Dedication 239

Acknowledgments 241

Index 243

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