Cancer: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199560233

Nick James
152 Pages
118 x 173 mm
Pub date
May 2011
Very Short Introductions


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  • Explains, in non-technical language, what cancer is and what it does
  • Uses examples of cancer healthcare from around the world
  • Explores the political and economic context of cancer care
  • Considers the future of cancer care, research, and breakthroughs in realising a cure

In 1961 John F. Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Nine years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Ten years later, Richard Nixon echoed this pledge by declaring a 'war' on cancer. More than 30 years later, however, cancer remains one of the largest causes of death worldwide, with around 1 in 3 developing the disease. Curing cancer is not 'rocket science', but the question is, why has cancer proved to be harder to tackle than the moon landings turned out to be? 
Cancer research is a major economic activity. There are constant improvements in treatment techniques that result in better cure rates and increased quality and quantity of life for those with the disease, yet stories of breakthroughs in a cure for cancer are often in the media. 
In this Very Short Introduction Nick James, founder of the CancerHelp UK website, examines the trends in diagnosis and treatment of the disease, as well as its economic consequences. Asking what cancer is and what causes it, he considers issues surrounding expensive drug development, what can be done to reduce the risk of developing cancer, and the use of complementary and alternative therapies.


1: The size of the cancer problem
2: How does cancer develop?
3: How is cancer treated?
4: Cancer research
5: The costs of cancer care
6: Alternative and complementary approaches to cancer care
7: The future shape of cancer care

About the author: 

Nick James is Professor of Clinical Oncology at the University of Birmingham. He has a long standing interest in communication of information to patients and founded the CancerHelp UK website in 1994 (www.cancerhelp.org.uk), now one of the largest patient websites in the world and the winner of many awards. He has written numerous research papers as well as a large number of contributions to multi-author text books and key review articles.

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