Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This is a remarkable book, regardless of what your relationship to cancer is. Mine is close--my youngest son had a medulloblastoma, diagnosed in 2000. The prognosis for his tumor has changed remarkably over the 25 years since I graduated from medical school and this book covers some of that territory--the science of how cancers work and how we might treat and prevent them with that knowledge. I am very grateful for the oncologists and patients who went before him, who contributed to the knowledge that has allowed him to live this last decade. My interest in the subject is perhaps above average, but 1 in 4 Americans will dies of cancer, and 1 in 3 will be diagnosed with it, so the disease will touch us or someone we know at some point in our lives.
The book is part story, part science, and is written warmly. It is a joy to read, even at the point where one might be struggling with the science. There are plenty of personal tales within the volume to give the reader a sense of what patients face, and how it affects the health care professionals who take care of them as well. I recommend this as a modern treatise on an old disease.