When I was contacted to review A Cancer in the Family by Theodora Ross, M.D., Ph.D. that was not the case. My interest was immediately piqued as there is cancer in my family, not just one cancer type, but many.
And I’m very glad that I read the book because Dr. Ross very calmly yet comprehensively discusses cancer that is caused by genetic mutation based on her own family history. To be honest, before I started reading the book, I was worried it would make me more anxious. But that was not the case. Instead, I started to feel empowered because I was finally thinking about the “elephant in the room.” And in the end, I came away with a wealth of useful information.
Throughout the book, Dr. Ross makes the point that knowing is better than not knowing, and knowledge allows us to make informed decisions. She also discusses what mutations need to be dealt with immediately and which are not as much a worry. The discussion of what clusters of cancers “go together” and are possible warning signs of mutations are very helpful, as is the discussion of how a good genetics counselor can help decide which tests are right for each patient (there are so many tests, that you can’t be tested for everything). The book is a good reminder of the importance of getting as much of a family cancer history as possible. Dr. Ross also points out that family secrets and incomplete information are very common when it comes to family health histories - a very useful reminder.
If there is a lot of cancer in your family and you are wondering if it may be caused by a genetic mutation, I think A Cancer in the Family is a very good book to read. Dr. Ross provides a wealth of useful information and communicates it in a way I wish all doctors communicated difficult material to their patients.
[Disclosures: I was provided with a free review copy of A Cancer in the Family . As always, all opinions are my own. Links in this post are affiliate links.]