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The Emperor of all Maladies

Today I finished a book on my Kindle that was so good that I want to share it on my blog as well. It’s Siddharta Mukherjee’s The Emperor of all Maladies – A Biography of Cancer. The 2011 Pullitzer Prize winning book written by an oncologist is a history of cancer, a history of the disease (or actually the many diseases that are all called cancer), our understanding of cancer and how treatments developed over the years.

It was a fantastic book to read, but because it’s quite a thick book it took me about 3 weeks to get through. I mainly read late at night and as the book is quite theoretical at some points, that is not always the best time to read it. But I enjoyed it very much and have a much better understanding of what cancer and cancer treatments are all about. A new world opened itself up for me, not always a pretty world, but a world that 1 out of 4 people eventually end up in.

The fight against cancer is something that we might never win, but we understand our enemy a lot better than just 25 years ago. As Mr. Mukherjee puts is, cancer is a distorted version of ourselves. Cancer genes are mutated genes of normal genes. Cancer genes seem to be immortal and they keep on growing into a possibly more perfect version of ourselves. Scary in a way, but if we would ever find out what makes cancer immortal, it may also lead to new breakthroughs in other areas of biology and medicine. One of the things I take away from the book is that, in general, we are not able to beat cancer and may never be, but

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  1. marc, dank voor deze tip ! Ik zag dat er ook een nederlandse vertaling was en die heb ik net gekocht en laten opsturen naar mijn vader, helaas een recente ervaringsdeskundige .. klinkt als een boek met precies de insteek die aansluit bij zijn informatie behoefte op dit moment. Appreciated !

  2. “Something which also makes me wonder whether living in Shanghai does not lead to a much higher risk of cancer in later life (air pollution)