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15 Must-Read Books for Oncologists and Science Enthusiasts

15 Must-Read Books for Oncologists and Science Enthusiasts

  • Summer Reading List: 15 must-reads for oncologists and science enthusiasts
  • From the author of The Emperor of All Maladies comes a history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information? Mukherjee weaves science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, describing centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Crick, Watson, and Franklin, to the 21st century innovators who mapped the human genome.
  • In the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.
  • There’s a running joke among radiologists: finding a tumor in a mammogram is akin to finding a snowball in a blizzard. Doctors are faced with similar difficulties every day when sifting through piles of data from blood tests to X-rays to endless lists of patient symptoms. This book looks at a number of controversies, including breast cancer screening, and explores the inescapable murkiness that permeates the theory and practice of modern medicine. Dr. Steven Hatch argues that instead of ignoring this uncertainty, we should embrace it.
  • In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Moalem shows us how fluid and fascinating the human genome is. By bringing us to the bedside of his unique and complex patients, he masterfully demonstrates what rare genetic conditions can teach us all about our own health. The author also looks at how insurance companies legally use genetic data to predict risk and how that ultimately impacts patient coverage.
  • This book examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. Through patient stories and his own, the author illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of many health problems in the black community. Tweedy explores the challenges confronting black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients, ultimately seeking a way forward to better treatment and more compassionate care.
  • In Pandora’s DNA, Stark uses her family’s experience with the BRCA mutation to frame a larger story about the so-called breast cancer genes, exploring the morass of legal quandaries, scientific developments, medical breakthroughs, and ethical concerns that surround BRCA mutations, from the troubling history of prophylactic surgery to the landmark lawsuit against Myriad Genetics that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • No matter which languages you know, if you want your work seen, studied, and cited today, you need to publish in English. For centuries science has been a polyglot enterprise. How did French, German, Latin, and Russian give way to English? In this book the history of science, and of English as its dominant language, comes to life, and brings with it a new understanding not only of the frictions generated by a scientific community that spoke in many often mutually unintelligible voices, but also of the possibilities of the polyglot,and the losses that the dominance of English entails.
  • Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin is the true story of a small New Jersey town beset by the chemical waste insidiously generated and unethically dumped by a chemical corporation in the pre-environmental legislation days of the 1960s. Toms River is relentlessly researched, and Fagin’s narrative gift results in a truly compelling “scientific detective story.”
  • For decades after identifying the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes. Other regions that make up 98% of the human genome were dismissed as “junk,” sequences that serve no purpose. Yet recently researchers have discovered variations and modulations in this junk DNA that underwrite a number of intractable diseases. The author provides a clear and compelling introduction to junk DNA and its critical involvement in phenomena as diverse as viral infections, sex determination in mammals, disease treatments, and evolution.
  • I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, which is written by both veteran nurses and nurses-in-training, paints a fascinating and sympathetic picture of the people who form this front-line of patient care. In these stories, nurses recall the first births they experienced as well as first deaths, and reflect on what they find most difficult and most compelling about this very challenging profession.
  • The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner begins in Philadelphia in 1959 when David Hungerford discovers a human cell with a missing piece of DNA, little knowing that his discovery would begin a scientific trajectory encompassing modern cancer research. His discovery became known as the Philadelphia chromosome, the genetic mutation responsible for the etiology of chronic myeloid leukemia, and this event marked the beginning of an explosion of interest in cancer biology and genetics.
  • Structured by the major food groups, this book offers guidelines on what are now known to be the foods most likely to reduce the risk of cancer. The author brings together his own research with that of other major cancer specialists, and breaks down which studies provide the most solid evidence, and how to use their results.
  • Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—harvested without her knowledge in 1951 and called HeLa cells by scientists today—became critical for the progress of medicine. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot follows the history of these cells, in part through the story of Lacks’s daughter, who sought to find out more about the life her mother lived and how she died.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee is a comprehensive and magnificent biography of cancer—from the time it first appeared in historic documents, through our modern struggle with the disease.
  • When George Johnson’s wife was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, Johnson, a renowned science writer, set off on a journey to learn everything he could about the disease. The result, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery, is a narrative that intertwines his very personal, devastating experience throughout his wife’s mortal illness, with what he subsequently learned about the disease.


Way cool! So glad I stumbled upon this SUMMER list even in WINTER. Some of these are brand new to me. I can't wait to order them on Amazon!
I must say, however, that I couldn't continue to read Henrietta Lacks. Gosh, so much suffering from her abusive husband, her unsupportive family and, unfortunately, the medical team, who, as in Gilda Radner's case, were clueless in the beginning due to the limitations of our diagnostic acumen in those days.
I see the comments on the web site. It is so much better than the old days when it was difficult to download. YES, it would be great to have a "PRINTABLE VERSION" as many sites have. As a card carrying obsessive compulsive, I relentlessly cut and paste into my laptop. You have so many pearls for me and my patients. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.

Frankie @

How can I download it?

Thảo @


Mohammad @

A printable list of titles and authors would be extremely helpful for those who want to add these to their reading lists!

Pamela @

Agreed, Pamela. Exactly what I was thinking.

Brenda @

You need a new team of web designers who know what they are doing. Your site does not work with these kind of presentations and it is a chronic problem going on for years. It is a shame on you.

atac @

Totally agree. I can never see the slides.

Tom @

Totally agree. I can never see the slides.

Tom @

This is a MUST READ for Surgical Oncologists, Nuclear Medicine Physicians/Moleccular Imaging Physicians, and Other Physicians involved in the care of Cancer Patients:

Radioguided Surgery: Current Applications and Innovative Directions in Clinical Practice. Editors: Ken Herrmann, Omgo E. Nieweg, and Stephen P. Povoski. Springer International Publishing AG Switzerland (as part of Springer Science+Business Media), Switzerland, 1st Edition, 2016, 29 Chapters (503 pages) (http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319260495)

stephen @

very interesting.... where can i get download link....?

Krupa @

Thanks,very informative

Gaaem @

Is there a way that I can get a printable list of these books rather than the individual pages?

Maria @

I can reccommend "C;Because Cowards Get Cancer Too" by the journalist John Diamond.
It recounts his battle with carcinoma of the tongue base with humour, pathos and real courage.
Ultimately uplifting, despite the subject matter.

Robert @

I was hoping and was happy to see that the amazing book "Being Mortal" written by Atul Gawande was on the list!

Brenda @

Where to find and buy these books pls?

obuoha @

Most, if not all, of these books can be found at online booksellers or I'm sure your local bookstore could order one for you (if you have one).

The Editors @

Very good list. Interesting as well

Geeta @

very interesting

Ljiljana @

Excellent suggestions.

Mario @

Brilliant incisive commentary on the war on cancer and in particular the ffailures of NCI.

Fred @

Great read on history of cancer, but the author is all wet on William Stuart Halstead.

Fred @

Please add: Radical Remissions, Kelly A. Turner, 2014: Study of cancer patients with advanced disease and considered terminal, who survive beyond all expectations for many years. The author's study shows the power that changed attitudes, social support, and unknown factors have in keeping us alive.

Cheryl @

Cannot get the list - what ist wrong

Matthias @

Hi Matthias, sorry you experienced this bug! Sometimes trying a different browser fixes the issue, but we're looking into it.

The @

It ain't working...

Carlos @

Sorry you experienced this bug, Carlos! Sometimes using a different browser can fix the issue, but our developers are looking into it.

The @




Mohammad @

your site does not work!!

Rob @

Sorry you experienced this bug! Sometimes a different browser solves the issue. Our developers are looking into it.

The @

The web page doesn't function.

Rowan @

Hi Rowan, sorry you experienced this bug! Our developers are looking into the issue.

The @

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