Cancer: The Evolutionary Legacy

Cancer: The Evolutionary Legacy

by Mel Greaves
     
 

ISBN-10: 0192628348

ISBN-13: 9780192628343

Pub. Date: 03/21/2002

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Every day, 1500 Americans die of cancer, and yet for most of us this deadly disease remains mysterious. Why is it so common? Why are there so many different causes? Why does treatment so often fail? What, ultimately, is cancer? In this fascinating new book, a leading cancer researcher offers general readers clear and convincing answers to these and many other

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Overview

Every day, 1500 Americans die of cancer, and yet for most of us this deadly disease remains mysterious. Why is it so common? Why are there so many different causes? Why does treatment so often fail? What, ultimately, is cancer? In this fascinating new book, a leading cancer researcher offers general readers clear and convincing answers to these and many other questions.
Mel Greaves places cancer in its evolutionary context, arguing that we can best answer the big questions about cancer by looking through a Darwinian lens. Drawing on both ancient and more modern evolutionary legacies, he shows how human development has changed the rules of evolutionary games, trapping us in a nature-nurture mismatch. Compelling examples, from the King of Naples intestinal tumor in the 15th century, through the epidemic of scrotal skin cancer in 18th-century chimney sweeps, to the current surge of cases of prostate cancer illustrate his thesis. He also shows why the old paradigms of infectious diseases or genetic disorders have proved fruitless when trying to explain this complex and elusive disease. And finally, he looks at the implications for research, prevention, and treatment of cancer that an evolutionary perspective provides.
Drawing on the most recent research, this is the first book to put cancer in its evolutionary framework. At a time when Darwinian perspectives on everything from language acquisition to economics are providing new breakthroughs in understanding, medicine seems to have much to gain from the insights provided by evolutionary biology. Written in an exceptionally lucid and entertaining style, this book will be of broad interest to all those who wish to know more about this dread disease.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192628343
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/21/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Figure acknowledgements
Part One: Cancer: ancient legacies and modern myths
1. Perplexed? You should be
2. The King of Naples and other silent witnesses
3. Soot, civilization, and neuroses
4. An evolutionary view
Notes to Part One
Part Two: Evolving cancer
5. Pundit's progress
6. Clones, clones, clones
7. The way we are: risks and restraints
8. How cancer cells play the winning game
9. St. Peregrine's progress
10. Green-eyed mutations?
11. Off to a shaky start
12. Blind chance - and ultimate extinction?
Notes to Part Two
Part Three: Paradox of progress: indecent exposures
13. Is cancer an evolutionary inevitability?
14. And then you set fire to it?
15. Women's troubles
16. Men's troubles
17. Cancer d'a deux
18. Other ways of getting bugged
19. Travelling light
20. The great glut
21. Dying for a living
22. Collateral damage
23. Finale: cause, complexity, and the evolutionary rub
Notes to Part Three
Part Four: Finessing the clone
24. Treatment: the blindfolded marksman
25. Epilogue: cancer in the twenty-first century
Notes to Part Four
General facts, figures, help, and advice
Glossary
Index

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