Understanding Cancer

This week's review provides an overview of cancer biology for a lay audience, including examples of risk factors and treatment.

Understanding Cancer

Hesketh, Robin. Cambridge, 2022
258p bibl index, 9781316517178 $49.99, 9781009005999 $14.95, 9781009043243

Part of the publisher’s “Understanding Life” series, this volume introduces cancer for nonspecialists and newcomers. Having previously authored Introduction to Cancer Biology (CH, Aug’13, 50-6791) and Betrayed by Nature (CH, Jan’13, 50-2688), Hesketh (Univ. of Cambridge) here continues bringing knowledge of cancer biology to the public, translating scientific topics into the language of a nonscientist. This book offers an engaging, thorough exploration, starting with a chapter of commonly asked questions and answers before moving into a brief history of the current understanding of cancer, incorporating specific topics from cell biology and cancer epidemiology along the way. Appropriate for a lay audience, chapters explain, for example, how cells and genes work and how mutations can lead to cancer. Later chapters describe what research reveals about causes of cancer that can be controlled as well as those that are harder to control. Finally, the book addresses issues of screening and treatment, touching on newer approaches in cancer biology, such as gene editing, epigenetics, and precision medicine. Overall, this is an enjoyable and compelling read and includes a list of references appropriate for each chapter and a helpful index. An unfortunate drawback is that the print, like the volume itself, is quite small.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates. General readers.
: J. M. Miller, University of Toledo
Subject: Science & Technology – Biology
Choice Issue: Mar 2023

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