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January 19, 1976

The Siege of Cancer

Author Affiliations

University of Missouri Medical Center Columbia


by June Goodfield, 240 pp, $8.95, New York, Random House, 1975.

JAMA. 1976;235(3):320-321. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260290064040

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Advertised as an assessment of the prospects for a cancer cure, endorsed as a stimulating report by a leader of the American Cancer Society, and touted on the dust cover as "magnificent, comprehensive, optimistic, beautifully written and unique," this journalistic endeavor cannot measure up to such rash claims. The publishers might be able to promote the book in the lay market, but the knowledgeable medical reader will find Goodfield's anecdotes far short of a comprehensive report on any cancer problem. Some of her interests in science and insights into scientists are charming, and a few are informative.

The first chapter, concerning epidemiologic studies of esophageal carcinoma in the deserts of Iran, is colorful journalism but not a penetrating analysis of this expensive and difficult research method. The more promising research concerning oncogenic viruses is more skillfully discussed but is uneven and long-winded. Somehow, the author often seems compelled to disrupt