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Despite the numbing title, this is an excellent popular book on cancer research and treatment by a French specialist who heads a cancer clinic in Bobigny. The publisher reports that Israel prescribed Betty Ford's postoperative chemotherapy, but the book in no way exploits this kind of notoriety. Instead, Israel describes the complex mix of environmental and genetic factors which contribute to the onset of cancer; current modes of treatment; and future directions. Israel is a proponent of combined strategies-surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, and ""poly"" chemotherapy. (His early experience as a lung specialist demonstrated the efficacy of using combinations of drugs in treating tuberculosis.) Israel is particularly enthusiastic about technological advances in the last decade. He feels that the public and most of the medical profession is still mired in the beliefs that a cancer diagnosis spells doom and that chemotherapy is a fate worse than cancer death. Not so. Treatment should be based on a careful analysis of the patient's type of cancer, its size and rate of growth, the condition of the immune system, and so on. The types of therapy and their timing can then be chosen for optimal results. Undergoing tests or on the horizon are drugs to synchronize tumor cell growth so that radiation or chemotherapy could destroy a greater percentage of cells, oral cancer drugs, and the use of ""antidotes"" to powerful drugs, which could rescue the white blood cells from the cancer killers. Among the interesting cultural differences Israel discusses is the French conspiracy of silence vs. the trend toward increasing frankness in America (possibly based on fears of malpractice suits). Israel's extensive collaboration in international cancer clinical trials points up the importance of internationalism in science to increase the depth, breadth, and spread of knowledge and experience. In this noble effort the book itself is an outstanding example.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Random House