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Cambridge University Science Magazine

Cancer is often portrayed as a disease of modern life, a consequence of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, processed diets, and polluted environments.  However, geneticist and science writer Kat Arney explores the history of cancer in the human race to show that it has likely existed as long as we have. In fact, cancer is the price we pay for multi-cellularity and longevity. 

Arney delves into the incredible evolutionary tactics cancer cells employ to make them such a formidable nemesis and draws fascinating parallels between their behaviour and other organisms like bacteria. One scientist working to outsmart cancer is Cambridge-based clinical geneticist Professor Serena Nik-Zainal. Nik-Zainal’s precision oncology thinking shifts emphasis from cancer-driving genes to mutational landscapes of individual tumours, which could help direct clinicians to the most appropriate treatment. 

Kat Arney takes the reader on an humorous and hopeful exploration of the evolutionary game of chess that scientists use to drive cancer into a dead end. It is an informative scientific synopsis of the history, evolution, and future of cancer. 

 Lily Taylor