For over 30 years I have worked as a research scientist and lecturer on the subject of cancer. However, it’s only in the last couple of years that I have achieved one of my ambitions – to write a book (Betrayed by Nature – to be published May 2012: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/betrayed-by-nature-robin-hesketh/1106279141) that tells the story of cancer for readers who start with no scientific knowledge.
To the obvious question ‘What took you so long?’ I can only reply that nothing is more challenging for scientists than explaining what they do to non-scientists. For cancer in particular, one might add that not much that they do is more important.
So this really does mean describing what cells are and what happens to one when it changes from being normal to cancerous in terms of the molecules that make things happen – and doing it for folk who begin with some uncertainty about the difference between genes and jeans. The book does this by taking a brief look at key steps in the history of cancer and then at how the pattern of different cancers across the world can actually tell us something about causes. After that comes ‘what is a gene?’ and ‘how do they make us tick?’ as well as what happens when they make us tick faster that we should. Finally we look at where we’re going in terms of detection, monitoring and treatment as medicine enters the biggest revolution in scientific history.
That’s all fine (that means it’s a great little book!) but such is the pace at which the field of cancer is moving there is a continuous pressure to add to points raised in the book as new information and discoveries emerge. Hence the birth of this blog – a running update on the field that will help everyone, me included, to keep up with events.
The whole idea of both book and blog is to help and demystify, so if you have questions please send them in. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll try to find someone who does.