* The First Cell by Azra Raza

The author of The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last is an oncologist who believes that we do too much to try to stop cancer cells once they are already multiplying rapidly, and should instead focus on early intervention. What a great idea. What’s not so great is this book, which suffers from several weaknesses. The first one is that it frequently repeats the same themes. Yes, we do understand that vast sums of money are spent developing exorbitantly expensive drugs that prolong lives for a few weeks. Second, the parade of patients that are presented all seem to be highly intelligent, educated, rich, sensible folks, who trust the good doctor completely. Don’t regular or obstreperous folks get cancer too? And perhaps the most unsettling aspect is the touting of the author’s personal tissue repository. Since the problems are so complex, shouldn’t we be sharing resources and research ideas?

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