Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and physician at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, spoke to Sheela Reddy about the disease. Excerpts:
There is a feeling that cancer can be cured. That it is no longer a killer disease. Is this true?
Cancer is not one disease, but many diseases. These diseases happen to be connected because they share the quality of abnormal cell growth. Some cancers are curable, while others are highly incurable. The spectrum is enormous. Metastatic pancreatic cancer is a highly incurable disease whereas some leukaemia forms are very curable. There is a big difference between one form and another. I think the way we think about cancer, the way we treat cancer, has dramatically changed in the last century. There is an enormous amount of options that a physician can provide today, right down from curing patients, treating patients or providing patients with psychic solace or pain relief. So, in fact, the gamut of medical intervention is enormous.