Cancer. There are few words in the English language having such a visceral, personal impact. Cancer patient. Cancer survivor. Pretty much anyone over the age of 30 knows one. A family member. A friend. Someone lost too soon. Someone forever changed. But we don’t really like to talk about it, because we don’t really understand it, because there’s really not much we can do. We fight cancer, sure, but we rarely win.
Defeating cancer is one of medical science's greatest challenges. So when a novel approach to treatment seems promising, there is an intense interest in its progress and those who are making it. This book is about both—the progress and the pioneers—and its focus is the revolutionary science of something called cancer immunotherapy.
This medical marvel, cancer immunotherapy—also called immuno-oncology—is still in its infancy. Yet, mobilizing the immune system to recognize and attack cancer has long been imagined, and occasionally attempted, for more than 100 years: It is only just recently that significant—in fact, unprecedented—progress has been made.
With the use of newly approved immunotherapy treatments, there are now reports of hundreds, if not thousands of cancer patients with advanced disease living years beyond all prior expectation. Some of these once-terminally ill patients are now called "cured."
This has never happened before.
As Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey comments in the Foreword, "It has taken decades of basic research and billions of dollars of investment to build the foundation upon which today’s lifesaving treatments are based. This book offers a uniquely entertaining yet inspiring glimpse into the lives and minds of the academic and industry pioneers who forged this new field. It is a story of how an obscure and oft-derided field of cancer research—and the tenacious few scientists who refused to abandon it—came from behind to become the new 'darling of oncology.'"
The book's author, Neil Canavan, is an experienced commentator on new developments in medical science. His portraits of 25 of the pioneers in immunotherapy are the culmination of two years of travel to laboratories, offices, and conferences around the world and countless hours of conversation with individuals immersed in a vitally important, promising assault on a dread disease that kills more than eight million people each year worldwide.