Three of those early identified successful agents are the very ones Aria had in addition to 5 other cocktails. I am indebted to those researchers. I am indebted to the parents of the children whose lives hung in balance of life and death for the sake of an unknown future. We are on other side of cancer. I would like nothing more than to tell you that I feel safe. Those chapters were hard to digest.
It would be easy to dismiss them criticizing Dr. Mukherjee for losing steam or failing to keep non-medical people engaged, but this would be a gross injustice to what I think was beautifully accomplished. Now we can get into those individual cells and understand and map the universe within them. I am in awe of this science and I am deeply, profoundly indebted to Dr. Mukherjee for explaining it to me. I told you this was personal. Cancer in all of its presentation is almost impossible to stomach and so these last chapters require the highest degree of concentration, attention and care.
It is the place where anyone suffering the effects of cancer or fearing cancer can grasp a firm thread of promise. This is an old battle. This is a known battle. This is a battle for which I was called to arms as witness to the battle my daughter fought.
This is a battle that continues to terrify me. This is a battle that I can face with confidence despite my fear. This is a battle that will remain but with weapons like the minds of Dr.
Mukherjee and others, this is a battle whose field will continue to shift in the favor of human well-being and dignity. On behalf of my family, I bow deeply. View all 4 comments. View all 7 comments. Dec 06, Vicki rated it it was amazing Shelves: As someone with a budding interest in diseases- whether chronic, acute, or intermittent- I immediately purchased this book for my library as soon as it was published. I anticipated a similarity to a favorite book of , The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but this book dives much deeper into the history of cancer, while interweaving personal accounts of patients the author treated.
This biography is different from anything I have read this year; poignant, lyrical, accessible- and most of all As someone with a budding interest in diseases- whether chronic, acute, or intermittent- I immediately purchased this book for my library as soon as it was published. This biography is different from anything I have read this year; poignant, lyrical, accessible- and most of all, real.
Living, and breathing along with his patients, Siddhartha Mukherjee dives deep into the dark and the light side of cancer, and explores not only how the diseases spreads within the body, but through the lives of his patients, and the doctors and scientists who strived to defeat this complicated, deadly disease. View all 5 comments. I've been wanting to read this since it first appeared, but I was just too nervous.
This is far scarier than any of your Barkers, your Kings or your Koontzes: Cancer, in the same way, is a deeply ironic disease. Civilization did not cause cancer, but by extending human life spans — civilization unveiled it. Now that so many people are surviving into their seventies and eighties, cancer has a better chance to pull off its mask — like a Scooby-Doo villain — to reveal that it was lurking there inside us all along.
And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you pesky oncologists. The fight has got a bit more sophisticated than it used to be. Not a lot, but a bit. Gradually, advances in biochemistry and, latterly, genetics, have allowed for more targeted non-surgical solutions, although so far only really for certain specific cancers. In fact the most progress has been made not in dealing with cancer, but in avoiding it in the first place. Anti-smoking campaigns, lifestyle advice, along with Pap smears and other screening programmes, have been very successful at least in the West elsewhere, things are going backwards in many cases.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and now a documentary from Ken Burns on PBS, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of . The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is a book written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, an Indian-born American physician and oncologist. Published.
He also goes a bit overboard with his literary credentials, bookending every chapter and section with multiple epigraphs from poets and other thinkers. It's not clear how well he understands his sources here, though, especially when you see that he's dated Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy to , when Burton had been dead for two hundred and fifty years.
Still, this is overall a very rich and rewarding book, full of scientific discovery and packed with historical detail. It's a thriller, it's a sci-fi, it's a horror story. Let's just hope that future editions have even more to report in the way of progress.
View all 8 comments. Feb 25, Christina rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: This book is elegant, extraordinarily insightful, and most of all important. Despite the big words and the complicated science, Mukherjee had me riveted from start to finish. I thought I had a knowledge of cancer before this book, but now I understand it, in all of its feverish complexity and horrifying beauty. In the history of cancer research, there have been bright flashes of brilliance combined with truths that are stupidly rediscovered centuries too late such as the carcinogen Deep breath.
In the history of cancer research, there have been bright flashes of brilliance combined with truths that are stupidly rediscovered centuries too late such as the carcinogenic nature of tobacco, which was delineated by an amateur scientist in a pamphlet in but that was still, somehow, up for "debate" in the s. What sticks with me most is that no one in cancer research really knows what they're doing, but the strength of truly great doctors lies in knowing that, instead of assuming the arrogant position that you've found the only way and other possibilities are laughable.
I did not know that this book won the Pullitzer this year when I read it, but it deserves every piece of praise it gets. I will admit it was very hard to read this book with my year-old sister so struck by and dying of breast cancer. On every page are patients suffering through cancer and its treatments, losing their battle only a few chapters before the particular solution they needed is found. Cancer is a formidable foe that, for better or worse, is tightly intertwined within our genes. One of the doctors profiled in the book had a favorite aphorism about how death in old age is not something to be beaten, but death before old age is the enemy to fight.
That is what I hope for. Not extravagant medical "advances" aiming for immortality — just the opportunity for each of us to fully experience our mortality for a period of time that does not rob of our best years, or the chance to have children, or the chance to find love and find ourselves. Jun 19, Jessica rated it really liked it Recommended to Jessica by: I am a big blubbery crybaby when I'm reading a book, but I'm gonna have to get over that if I'm going to get through The Emperor of All Maladies. I almost bailed at page five because it was obvious that reading this would involve an intolerable amount of weeping on public transit, but then I realized that what I must do is master myself.
I'm too old to be crying all the time! I'm going to read this book and I'm going to put a wrench to the waterworks!
I'm gonna save my tears for I am a big blubbery crybaby when I'm reading a book, but I'm gonna have to get over that if I'm going to get through The Emperor of All Maladies. I'm gonna save my tears for sentimental nineteenth-century fiction! I hope this doesn't give me tear-duct cancer or something. It's probably dangerous, but it's what I must do.
Nov 03, Nick Black rated it really liked it Recommended to Nick by: Steven Shapin The New Yorker. Suffers noticeably from a lack of editorial quality control -- several passages are repeated almost word-for-word why does this happen so often in high-grade po http: Suffers noticeably from a lack of editorial quality control -- several passages are repeated almost word-for-word why does this happen so often in high-grade pop science?
Then again, less technically-minded readers are probably thankful for these lacunae. Overall, I'd have appreciated more focus on the past 20 years of oncological research, rooted as they are more deeply in the hard sciences of molecular biology and targeted pharmocology; cancer treatment has, until quite recently, been a story of observation-driven research, which no matter how complete the collection or analysis of data points is and must remain both fundamentally less effective and less interesting than the ineluctable march of theory.
Then again, one of Mukherjee's major points is that "cancer" is a collection of protean, complex, multifaceted things, evolution in situ possessing its own elegance and beauty, a noble and almost clever opponent. So often thought hovering on the brink of defeat, it has always managed to elude its pursuers, and perhaps the proliferation of pathways hints that protein folding and recombinance will form no more a panacea than did adjuvant radiotherapy forty years ago.
Hence the radiolabeled polyethylene glycol-coated hexadecylcyanoacrylate nanospheres, in all their evanescent busting of the blood-brain barrier -- and in all their depositive despair. Cancer's accelerated evolution suggests convergence of mortality toward such rough beasts. Pathway-oriented research is critical. This is a pretty goddamn good book. View all 6 comments. It currently dominates the news in The Netherlands: Therefore, a high death rate seems unavoidable either way.
Yet, authorities have reason to believe that patients at thi It currently dominates the news in The Netherlands: Yet, authorities have reason to believe that patients at this clinic died under suspicious circumstances. The drug in question, 3BP, has shown promising results in early testing and is cautiously referred to as a potential breakthrough treatment for cancer by some researchers.
A Dutch boy called Yvar Verhoeven was treated with 3BP several years ago after his dad refused to give up on him. He wrote to over cancer specialists begging for the experimental treatment. Finally, a specialist in Frankfurt was willing and treatment ensued. As often is the case with cancer, there was no happy ending: Yvar passed away due to related complications a year later. At the time, Dutch professor of medical oncology at the Acadamisch Medisch Centrum , called the mechanism of action of 3BP "very interesting", but warned that a lot of additional research was required before it could be use in humans.
Alternative clinics like the one in Germany latched onto the drug anyway. The investigation of the sudden deaths at that clinic is still in full swing, but early reports point in the direction of the clinic possibly carelessly administering manually mixed dosages of the highly unstable 3BP. Indeed it is now, and still cancer patients look for last-ditch options and visit quacks in their hopelessness.
It's and still cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8. What exactly does cancer entail? He intersperses his book with compelling patient stories and mini-biographies. Just as easily, he throws around in-depth scientific information to explain the difficulties the medical world faces. And so the unthinkable happened: Mukherjee made me read pages on cancer in a little over a week, and he didn't even hold a gun to my head.
Cancer is a collective noun for hundreds of diseases, and every time we think we have figured out one tiny piece of the puzzle for one of those diseases, cancer races ahead of us, adapting and evolving to wreak havoc again, undisturbed for yet another decade. Mukherjee will lead you through all those decades, stretching into centuries. Starting with the queen of Persia, Atossa, who somewhere in BC discovered a bleeding lump in her breast in what is the first recorded instance of cancer. With interest and horror I read how Medieval doctors experimented with a wide range of dubious treatments like mercury and lead concoctions and a whack, whack here and a whack, whack there oh, dark, dark Middle Ages.
But as the book crept closer to our modern age, something else happened to me as a reader. The increasing popularity of smoking and the campaign against it, too, reminded me of a personal anecdote. The same day, he went cold turkey. This is an odd book, in the sense that it evokes so many emotions at once. Everything considered, this book was incredibly informative and compelling.
It might well be the best book I read in Fascinating and deep insight into the history of cancer research dating all the way back to an Egyptian text from BC describing a 'bulging tumour in the breast for which there was no treatment'. A fairly comprehensive explanation of cancer biology that I believe can still be understood by the lay person. Good explanations into the research behind the mechanism of action and the targets of some cancer drugs in use today.
For more completion I would have liked a chapter on angiogenesis inhibitors though. Siddhartha Mukherjee writes with a style that is not dry or indigestible like a lot of science-heavy material but instead gives a very human touch to a topic that could seem tough and difficult to grasp in lesser hands. If you enjoy the section on cancer biology and want to know more about basic human genetics then I would also highly recommend The Gene: An Intimate History also written by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Everything you've ever wanted to know, and didn't want to know about cancer. While this is not light reading, it's interesting reading. Jan 16, Carol rated it it was amazing Recommended to Carol by: My stars make more sense when you align them with genre or category than title perhaps. Take a book like The Emperor of Maladies: This was a book group book and I worried that some would find the topic overally depressing to read or that others, cancer survivors themselves, might be emotionally upset.
I was right and yet, I was wrong too. None felt it would have made any difference when they were going through their own illness but thought it might have helped if they had read it cancer free. It also would be useful for family members. Considering there are few of us who will not either have some form of cancer ourselves, or have a love one in need of treatment, this is a book for to equip you with knowledge.
Our group learned much, shed a few tears, ate chocolate and marmite one concoction used for cure long ago , and laughed as all living people must. In the end we felt hopeful that with dedicated doctors, committed researchers, and palliative treatment, we can live longer and better, if not cured, at least, living with cancer.
Mukherjee won a Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction for his effort. I highly recommend this book for someone needing to understand the structure of this disease, and for persons interested in science and medicine. If you say its name too often it may just manifest in front if you. Especially because both my parents are cancer survivors and my extended family is also riddled with cancer cases. And I know I am not alone in my fear of this disease. The stigma around cancer is mentioned frequently in this book. But knowledge is power, and I was determined to tackle this Beetlejuice head-on.
Yet it seems the more we know about cancer the more difficult a cure-all feels. It starts with looking at the history of medicine and advancement of surgery. With the use of ether and discovery of radium, so did cancer treatment advance right along with it. End of life care was only fought for and introduced in the s — before that incurable patients were all but forgotten in the dusty corners of hospitals. But be forewarned, this is a dense book and not one to just breeze through.
Half of the book deals with clinical trials and a good portion of it focuses on quite complex genetic concepts such as mutation genes ras, myc, rb, neu. I did not find these sections as riveting as I thought I would but at least now I know what retrovirus really means. I understand that cancer is complicated, VERY complicated so although this extremely well researched piece of work is highly informative it is also at times a little academic and dry.
My rating is based on my personal preference of how scientific work is presented to a layman like me. Tales of Neurosurgery , and my favourite Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong presents scientific facts in a slightly more engaging way. Recommended for readers who have a personal interest in cancer and who will be willing to slog through some complicated concepts to get to the nuggets.
View all 9 comments. Dec 04, Rohit Enghakat rated it it was amazing Shelves: The book is beautifully written and an epic tome on cancer. Full marks to Siddhartha Mukherjee for his detailed analysis and extensive research on the disease. Each chapter starts with quotes by people associated with the disease and about half-way down the book, you realise "Cancer changes your life" a patient wrote after her mastectomy.
Each chapter starts with quotes by people associated with the disease and about half-way down the book, you realise that it is not a book but a work of art painstakingly brought to life by Siddhartha. A gamut of emotions overwhelm you while reading this book. You feel sad when you read that people who have strived to fight cancer and find a cure themselves died of the disease ironic isn't it? You will be horrified to learn that mastectomies or for that matter, surgeries were performed on patients without anaesthesia in the 18th century. You will feel the unbearable and mind-numbing pain of patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
You feel happy when patients are cured and do not relapse. You feel a sense of despondency and helplessness when doctors break the news of diagnosis of the disease to their patients, especially so, when it has reached a stage beyond cure. You feel gloomy for patients clamouring for a ray of hope to find a cure. Folks, it would be apt if you read on kindle. The book is a heavy read. It took me two months to finish this. It has been a wonderful journey!!
The first hundred pages trace cancer's history, even way back to the Egyptian civilization. The next two hundred pages are about the long struggles in surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to fight cancer. Then the last two hundred pages launch into prevention, genetics and more pharmacology.
With the scientific terminology toned down and explained as best as the author could, I felt I was reading a quasi-textbook. Before the topic would become monotonous there were breaks in form of s Informative. Before the topic would become monotonous there were breaks in form of stories, whether heartwarming or heartwrenching.
And when not being technical, Mukherjee's writing can also be lyrical.
I really like how the more common cancers: And then each cancer's backstory, current status and future is written about. Mukherjee used the word serendipitous several times. I think I understand. We may never know the cure for cancer but everything we now know and may learn to fight it with is serendipitous. This was a mammoth undertaking of research and writing.
I think those who read this should also read "Anticancer: A New Way of Life" by Dr. I never realized that a book about the history of Cancer could keep me reading on.
I'm not a doctor or a nurse, though I've had a close member of the family pass away from Cancer, and perhaps that's what keeps me going, since I've been morbidly fascinated and terrified of the disease since. The chapters I've read have been so hard to get through it has so far covered childhood Lukemia lord, the tears!
Cancer is a terrible, terrible disease, and this book captures the essence of how it has changed history, medicine, and our lives as we know it. And so I finished this book about a month ago and I still couldn't wrap my head around how epic is is. There is a lot of information to get through, but I have learned more about cancer in the hours I've had with this book than I ever did in a lifetime--not even as I watched my own loved-one die of the disease. Cancer, the phantom, has now become cancer, the complex, amazing, all-consuming, aggressive, immortal, microscopic, biological, genetic disease.
I don't understand everything about it, but it has become real and tangible--no longer the abstract "concept" that it once was to me. This book has, in fact, helped me quit smoking better than any fad psychobabble. I quit smoking half-way through the book. I had been smoking for over a decade, and while there was a two-year interval somewhere when I quit because I was pregnant and then because I wanted to take care of my child, I "relapsed" into my habits and my addiction. This book has truly made an impact on me. A great compilation on all cancer related, from history to biology, treatments, future perspectives and clinical cases.
Though a big dense book, with tons of information, it is greatly written and explained in a way everyone can understand. For those not much into science or medicine it can be a bit hard. As said, it is huge and tells so many things, but worth reading anyhow. From my point of view, the view of a trained scientist with some cancer knowledge, and a lover of medicine, science and h A great compilation on all cancer related, from history to biology, treatments, future perspectives and clinical cases.
From my point of view, the view of a trained scientist with some cancer knowledge, and a lover of medicine, science and history, this book is fantastic. One of the best non-fiction I've read so far. Jun 24, K. Charles added it Shelves: Absolutely astonishing history of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the search for causes. It's extremely well written and intensely, compellingly readable, with some pretty terrifying details, and completely clear even for this scientific illiterate. Mukherjee never loses sight of the humanity of researchers or patients, which helps us understand decisions, responses and deductions that look pretty shonky from the outside.
Some of this is rage inducing, no less because of the extremely calm pres Absolutely astonishing history of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the search for causes. Some of this is rage inducing, no less because of the extremely calm presentation of stories that, you sense, probably had the author throwing things as he wrote. The appalling history of 'radical mastectomy' where male surgeons competed to cut off as much of women's bodies as they could on the untested theory that this would prevent metastasis.
Lump in your breast? Say goodbye to your shoulder muscle and chest wall. One of the small triumphs in this book is the way we see women rising up to demand a say in their own treatment. As for the story of how the tobacco companies conspired to obfuscate or hide the link between smoking and cancer It's seriously informative about a disease that probably more than 1 in 3 of us will get, and eye opening about the reality of a cure and the difficulties entailed in finding one and then keeping up with cancer's malignant ingenuity.
A real tour de force of popular science, highly recommended. May 30, Meetu rated it it was amazing.
I first heard about this book a year back and was sure I would never read it. Medical non-fiction is not something I want to wrap my head around. So finally when I did pick it up from the library it was because a young acquaintance was undergoing chemotherapy and I thought it was perhaps "important" to understand cancer. I am surprised at what a gripping read the book turned out to be. I ran through the initial or so pages that chronicle the first instances of cancer in history. Mukherjee's I first heard about this book a year back and was sure I would never read it. Mukherjee's ability with words is obvious from the very first page.
He makes the whole guided tour of cancer a fascinating one. At the same time, there is an emotional undertone to the whole story. There is the evil enemy cancer and there are the good guys The personality of each of these contributors to the fight against cancer, is charmingly analysed by the writer and is one of the things I especially liked about the book.
But after a fortnight and with more than half the book left, I realised I was losing the thread because of the numerous people and events that had been explained. So I actually and geekily made notes at the back of the book in pencil so that the basic developments would be clear to me. It still took me another month or so to complete the book. I cried, felt triumphant and figuratively bit my nails as I waited for some sort of denoument.
Mukherjee makes this whole labyrinthine journey seem like some Greek adventure. In the end, a basic understanding of the disease was all that decades of research arrived at. However, with an opponent as formidable as that described by the writer, this was as good a climax as those I have come across in any good thriller.
The book reads like a dedication to all those who lost their lives to the disease and to those who made it their live's purpose to vanquish it. There is a strong "personal" sense to the writing that elevates the book. It is definitely among the most significant books that I have ever read.
You feel a sense of despondency and helplessness when doctors break the news of diagnosis of the disease to their patients, especially so, when it has reached a stage beyond cure. Crusaders for a magic bullet, including Farber, were scornful of calls to wait on the development of genetic research, or to emphasise prevention, or to appreciate the need for care as much as "cure". For those not much into science or medicine it can be a bit hard. The cellular composition of cancer is Mukherjee's own field, but he is under no illusions that the new era will leave history behind, or that gene-based therapies will lead us out of the cancer age. Thanks for telling us about the problem.
And it is - I paused here for emphasis, lifting my eyes up - often curable. Carla nodded at that word, her eyes sharpening We spoke for an hour, perhaps longer. It was now nine thirty in the morning. The city below us had stirred fully awake. The door shut behind me as I left, and a whoosh of air blew me outward and sealed Carla in. For nearly six decades, the Rous virus had seduced biologists - Spiegelman most sadly among them - down a false path. Yet the false path had ultimately circled back to the right destination - from viral src toward cellular src and to the notion of internal proto-oncogenes sitting omnipresently in the normal cell's genome.
In Lewis Carroll's poem, when the hunters finally capture the deceptive snark, it reveals itself, not to be a foreign beast, but one of the human hunters sent to trap it. And so it turned out with cancer. Cancer genes came from within the human genome. Indeed the Greeks had been peculiarly prescient yet again in their use of the term oncos.
Cancer was intrinsically "loaded" in our genome, awaiting activation. We were destined to carry this fatal burden in our genes - our own genetic "oncos". Jul 25, Rebecca Foster rated it it was amazing Shelves: This magisterial history of cancer won a Pulitzer Prize, though not for History that went to a new book about the Civil War or, as Mukherjee more whimsically categorizes his own book, Biography that went to a biography of George Washington ; instead, he won in the General Nonfiction category, which, though prosaic, is certainly appropriate for a work of scientific journalism.
What Mukherjee has achieved in less than pages is truly remarkable: That he manages this without alienating people who come to the material with no more knowledge than one could glean from newspaper articles and high school biology is impressive. Only in the last third of the book did I find the science stretching the limits of my imaginative capacity and my memory of AP Biology and Genetics classes, as he goes into details of oncogenes, tumor suppressors, retroviruses, etc. The Rous Sarcoma Virus presented an opportunity to study carcinogenesis up close.
In Robert Sandler received his first injection of controversial amniopterin. In the s Mary Claire King began investigating genetic links of cancer in families. A journey through America that introduces our list of the best-loved books. Use one of the services below to sign in to PBS: Creating an account is free and gets you: Access to High-Definition streaming A personal area on the site where you can access: Themes of Cancer Clip: A Conversation Special 28m 17s.
Providing Support for PBS. Specials Right Left Cancer: Special 19m 44s checkmark Add to Watchlist. The Emperor of All Maladies Cancer: Siddhartha Mukherjee Special 28m 17s checkmark Add to Watchlist. Extras Right Left Cancer: S1 6m 12s checkmark Add to Watchlist. S1 4m 36s checkmark Add to Watchlist. The Emperor of All Maladies Dr. Virchow Virchow's microscope reveals that all cancer cells grow from normal cells Clip: S1 1m 45s checkmark Add to Watchlist. Wilson, a cancer surgeon from Howard University Hospital, is diagnosed with cancer Clip: S1 3m 7s checkmark Add to Watchlist. S1 5m 24s checkmark Add to Watchlist.
Cancer is the fastest growing disease on earth. S1 4m 39s checkmark Add to Watchlist. The Emperor of All Maladies Why Cancer is so difficult to cure Cancer cells are constantly mutating and become resistant to drugs Clip: S1 1m 2s checkmark Add to Watchlist. S1 3m 47s checkmark Add to Watchlist.