Preface to the first edition

This book originates from our introductory cancer course for Pharmacy students, which we developed over many years of teaching. One of the challenges one is faced with is the sheer volume of existing and continuously emerging information about the disease and its multifaceted and complex molecular origins. The other challenge stems from the fact that despite of all this knowledge our understanding of the underlying principles that drive cancer development and progression continuous to change quite dramatically.

Given these challenges we have focused on the overarching framework rather than the detailed mechanisms. Our aim is to provide a paradigm that allows integration of current and emerging fundamental knowledge and clinical therapies but that also one that potentially helps to inform the understanding of how to best tackle the disease in the future.

The book has been developed with the help of our students for students, since over the years we have had many interesting discussions and questions from students that have helped to highlight challenging topics. These have informed out own understanding of this complex subject and how to teaching the various facets of cancer. Cancer is not only a highly interesting but also difficult subject, because students need a good background in biology and some chemistry to understand cancer development and treatment.

This book is not a complete and detailed description of all aspects of cancer. This is intentional as there are already many excellent textbooks that cover the topic in much more detail. In fact, this book only contains the information that we considered essential to develop a useful overall understanding of cancer - and to successfully pass accreditation or exams at the undergraduate level.

For patients and their friends and family the diagnosis of cancer often is life-changing and has a profound impact. Cancer is often life-threatening and sometimes terminal but even for many that undergo successful treatment the often prolonged and challenging therapy and uncertain outcome presents an enormous physical and emotional challenge.

After decades with an explosion of knowledge into the underlying biology of cancer we are today able to explains how cancer develops and what makes it such a formidable challenge in terms of development of therapy. This book will give an outline of the fundamentals of cancer as we understand it today. It will equip a non-specialist reader with a framework of core concepts allowing the integration of more detailed knowledge of specific areas as well as emerging new ideas. Cancer is one of the most intensely studied areas of scientific research (Figure 1.1) and unraveling the biology of cancer turns out to be closely linked with understanding the mechanisms that maintain healthy cells, tissues, organs and bodies.

This book will help readers first to understand the development of cancer before he/she engages with the challenging subject of how to treat different cancers. One important aspec of this book is that it conveys the understanding common concepts. The books intention is also to help the student find additional more detailed information him/herself, if required.

London, 2021-04-21