Author Says Cancer is “Part of Who We Are”

Most researchers see cancer as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different diseases, says Donald Berry of Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. He points to two genetic tests that help predict which breast cancer patients need chemotherapy. One uses 21 genes, the other 70. Both are accurate, yet they have only one gene in common.

Read full book review of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Comments (5)

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  1. Vicki says:

    Interesting. It convinces me we don’t know very much. Or, not nearly enough.

  2. Brian Williams. says:

    Is it true that sharks don’t get cancer?

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    Most experts believe if you live long enough, it is highly likely that you will get cancer at some point. In that regard, cancer is a disease of old age. There are some misguided theories that cancer is a modern phenomenon due to environmental factors. But archeological digs have found mummies and human remains that shown signs of cancer. They are rare because ancient people died of other diseases before they grew old enough to get cancer. Also, to find cancer in long-buried human remains, the cancer had to enter the bones — which is not where most cancer starts.

  4. Nancy says:

    This is worrisome.

  5. Peter S. says:

    On the biochemical and theoretical level cancer cells are noted by their ability to rapidly reproduce. At the end of DNA there are “caps” called telomeres that are designed to protect the vital code. Each time a strand reproduces (many times a day), it becomes shorter. If the strand becomes too short it can become cancerous (by mutation), or simply die. The issue is when telomerase (the enzyme) rapidly replicates the cancerous gene (possibly leading to it being malignant and/or metastatic). Besides age, other factors have lead to the exacerbation and shortening of the strands such as environmental, free radicals, other exposures, or pure randomness and bad luck. As explained to me in biochemistry, everyone essentially has “cancer”, as gene mutation is not uncommon. Today, the ability is control rapid mutated DNA replication is the question regarding cell life.