This new book offers insights into where we are in curing cancer: The Death of Cancer: After 50 Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer is Winnable -- and What We Need to Do to Get There.
Vincent T. DeVita is eminently qualified to write about the history of modern cancer care. He's been a major player in his roles as...
- a practicing oncologist
- a researcher who helped introduce curative combination chemotherapy
- Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Cancer Program
- Physician-in-Chief Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute
- Director Yale Cancer Center
- One of 3 editors of Principles and Practice of Oncology
On the personal side, DeVita lost a close friend to prostate cancer and was himself treated for prostate cancer. Also, DeVita diagnosed his 10-y-o son Ted with aplastic anemia. Ted lived the next 8 years in a specialized isolation room at the NCI (where DeVita was working) until he died of complications at 17 years of age.
DeVita deftly presents the ups and downs of modern oncology from his perspective. As with all histories of medicine, it's clear that progress depends not only on advances in science and technology, but also on overcoming obstacles to acting on knowledge in ways that help patients.
I finished the book feeling conflicted. I'm more hopeful that researchers WILL find safer and far more effective cancer treatments--even cures--in the near future. Sadly, I'm more discouraged about the obstacles (e.g., politics, personal agendas).