Monday, June 13, 2011

The Emperor

of All Maladies

A friend recommended this book to me and I found it at the local library.

As I've probably mentioned before, I like 'weird' science. 

I'm finding it quite fascinating.  Cancer has for many years been shrouded in secrecy.  There were no effective treatments until mid-20th century.  This book looks at the historical record and attempts to bring light to a difficult disease.

Although there is medical language, the book is really focused on the lay person and I'm finding it quite readable.

During the mid 1950's a search was begun for a methodology for treating cancer and medications were being developed but remissions were brief.  Eventually individuals gained insight into how cancer worked and what might kill the cells that were multiplying out of control.

Since cancer medications are in effect poisons, there was reluctance to administer multiple medications.  This sentence (amongst many!) caught my eye:

"It is the dose that makes a poison," runs the old adage in medicine:  all medicines were poisons in one form or another merely diluted to an appropriate dose.  But chemotherapy was poison even in the correct dose.

I am grateful for the pioneers in cancer treatment research. 


Loree Jackson said...

Thanks for this recommendation. A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with lymphoma and I will recomend it to her.

Rhonda from Baddeck said...

My pharmacist recently told me "All medicine is poison - we just have to decide which side effects we want to deal with." That made me stop and think... But thank goodness they have found which drugs work for which illnesses, and they have methods to counteract some of the side effects. (I hope your ankle is feeling better.)

Laura said...

My ankle is slowly improving - got 'extra' antibiotics to make sure it stays on the right track. :)

I like to know what's going on and this book has been very interesting. Learning all sorts of stuff I had no idea about before. :)