>A BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee explores the history—and future—of a disease that will hit one in four Americans.

WHY DID YOU WRITE THE BOOK?

A patient said to me, “I’m willing to fight this, but I need to know what I’m fighting.” Others would ask questions like, “What is its past? Have rates been going up? What will the landscape of cancer be like for my children?” The book is an attempt to help demystify the disease.

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CURE?

It’s wily. Cancer cells can evolve to escape all forms of treatment; they’re survivors in the most perverse sense. Ultimately cancer is sort of a malignant twin hidden in our body—a twin you can’t live with.

IS THERE HOPE?

Yes. Cancer research has been transformed in the last decade. We now understand many of the mechanisms by which a normal cell becomes a cancer cell, so we can use highly targeted drugs against these mechanisms. Before, we’d be throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. We’re still throwing darts, but now the lights are on.

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