The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer is Winnable— and How We Can Get There
by Vincent DeVita and Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn Instaread summary
Before the 1970’s, the vast majority of people diagnosed with cancer faced a death sentence. The best and often only option was radical surgery, in most cases disfiguring. Radiation was the other main option but it was also expensive and alone was largely insufficient. These therapies were generally only successful when the tumor was localized, metastatic cancer was largely untreatable. The book is primarily a professional autobiography of Vincent DeVita, a pioneer in the use of chemotherapy to treat cancer.
Historically, the medical profession is generally very conservative, reluctant to try new things or accept that the old ideas are inadequate or even wrong. That was true when doctors were spreading diseases by not washing their hands in the 1800’s and is still true to a lesser extent now. DeVita was one of the pioneers in fighting against many in the medical profession for the adoption of chemotherapies in the treatment of cancer. Some of the resistance was due to the generally conservative nature of the business, but as is pointed out in the summary financial considerations were also a part of it. If chemotherapy replaced radiation therapy then many radiologists would be out of work. A significant reduction in surgery for cancer treatment would also lead to less work for surgeons.
The summary does precisely what it should do, it made me want to read the full book. Heroes come in many forms, some of the most unsung are the people that push for new medical treatments against the odds. In all cases they face criticism and sometimes they are risking their careers. While DeVita was not completely alone in his battles, the adoption of chemotherapy for cancer has saved thousands of lives and he should be given credit for that. This summary does not do that in total, the book will do that. This item simply points that out.
This book was made available for free for review purposes