The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last

Basic. Oct. 2019. 368p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781541699526. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781541699502. MED
Richard Nixon declared the “War on Cancer” in 1971. Since then, survival rates have improved, thanks to early detection and smoking cessation. However, according to Raza (oncology, Columbia Univ.), our treatment methods have not changed. We still rely on surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Genetic therapy and other technological approaches that sounded promising have not resulted in benefits for most patients. Researchers have uncovered many secrets of cancer cell biology, but their findings have not led to improved therapies. Along with touching on end-of-life issues in cancer care, Raza proposes that our approach to cancer research should be turned on its head. Current research focuses on developing drugs that will kill the last cancer cell, using cell culture and mouse models. The failure rate for drugs manufactured in this manner is 95 percent. Of the five percent, one such drug extends the life of pancreatic cancer patients by 12 days at a cost of $26,000. Rather, according to Raza, we should fund research into early screening that locates the first cancer cell and kill it at the source, with lower costs and fewer side effects.
VERDICT This memorable work will be of interest to anyone who has been impacted by cancer, both patients and family and friends.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing