Just as it was with immunology, my ignorance of cancer biology was, and is, profound. Accordingly, I looked around for both an introductory text to provide an overview of the subject and a more comprehensive source to fill in details. While it probably isn't suitable for someone with a limited background in modern biochemistry, Alberts et al's book, "Molecular Biology of the Cell", has a chapter appropriately entitled "Cancer" that nicely summarizes the field. Like the bulk of the book, it's beautifully written and, so far, it has proven invaluable. However, I needed a more exhaustive account of the subject. At 960 pages and $162 (for the paperback version), Robert Weinberg's tome, "The Biology of Cancer", second edition, is massive both in volume and cost. By all accounts, it's the definitive authority on the subject. But it seemed to be a bit much, so I opted for a less weighty book, and chose "Molecular Biology of Cancer", 4th edition, by Lauren Pecorino. It had gotten good reviews on Amazon, had a newer publication date, was less expensive, and promised more or less the same information as Weinberg in a smaller package. Unfortunately, after perusing a few chapters, I didn't care for the author's style. So, just this morning, I ordered the Weinberg book. It'll arrive the day after tomorrow. I'll have additional comments about it in the next post.
While waiting for Amazon to deliver Weinberg's book, let me introduce some important general principles.
I'll elaborate on these themes in subsequent posts, thereby providing enough of a decent introduction so that I can discuss how cancer and the immune system interact. Ultimately, I plan on getting to how the scientific community hopes to engineer the cells of the immune system to serve as therapeutic agents against cancer.
As aside: Just this morning (Oct 1, 2018) it was announced that the Nobel Prize had been awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation". I hope to add their studies to the list of topics that I will cover eventually.