Writing about it

Robert Souhami

  • Conquering Cancer by Lucien Israel, translated by Joan Pinkham
    Penguin, 269 pp, £2.25, January 1981, ISBN 0 14 022276 6

This is a book about the advances made in the treatment of cancer, especially in its management by medical means – a branch of medicine known as medical oncology. Anyone who writes a book about cancer must bear in mind that many of its readers will be patients who have the disease or their relatives and close friends. Some of them will read it in fearful anticipation of what they will learn and of the loss of hope it may entail. The author has a special responsibility to such readers. Yet, as the book shows, it is difficult, even for those treating cancer, to be calm and objective about the disease. Cancers are common, and often, but not always fatal. The disease inspires dread in the mind of the public. It also presents scientists and doctors with some of the most difficult problems in medicine.

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