Catching Cancer: The Quest for its Viral & Bacterial Causes

Claudia Cornwall. Rowman & Littlefield, $36 (220p) ISBN 978-1-4422-1520-7
Cornwall’s 2010 Canadian Reader’s Digest article had an intriguing premise: that some cancers are “caught” by patients because of specific infections. In this book, Cornwall (At The World’s Edge) expands her thesis, delving into the fitful search for microbial causes of cancer by highlighting the work of seven remarkable scientists (including several Nobel Prize winners) who, noticing “some small aberration from the ordinary,” have managed to inch us that much closer to conquering a scourge that kills 7.5 million people annually. Dr. Palmer Beasley (who died of cancer after Cornwall’s interview with him, but before the publication of the book) put forth provocative evidence identifying chronic hepatitis B as an important cause of liver cancer; Harald Zur Hausen posits a correlation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, and suggests that a vaccine might prevent it; Barry Marshall and Robin Warren uncover the role of the H. pylori bacteria in gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancer; researcher Paul Ewald helps scientists understand why pathogens are linked to cancers; and husband-wife team Yuan Chang and Patrick Moore found a new technique to identify viruses. Because finding an infectious agent allows doctors to do something about it, Cornwall insists that the work of these researchers may someday make “catching” cancer less scary. Agent: Robert Lecker, Robert Lecker Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/28/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 229 pages - 978-1-4422-1521-4
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