The best oncology books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about oncology and why they recommend each book.

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By Vinayak K. Prasad,

Book cover of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People with Cancer

Since Nixon’s "War on Cancer," oncology treatment has seen some great advances, but also the approval of scores of over-priced drugs that do little to improve patients’ quality or quantity of life. Oncologist Vinay Prasad has written a broad, accessible overview of the flaws of modern cancer drug development that spans clinical trial design, conflicts of interest, regulatory policy, and more. His unabashedly anti-pharma stance gets preachy in places, but most of the challenges he identifies are spot-on and provide a thought-provoking roadmap for the future.

Who am I?

Frank S. David, MD, PhD leads the biopharma consulting firm Pharmagellan, where he advises drug companies and investors on R&D and business strategy. He is also an academic researcher on strategy, regulation, and policy in the drug industry; a member of the Harvard-MIT Center for Regulatory Science; and a former blogger at

I wrote...

The Pharmagellan Guide to Analyzing Biotech Clinical Trials

By Frank S. David,

Book cover of The Pharmagellan Guide to Analyzing Biotech Clinical Trials

What is my book about?

If you're a biotech executive, investor, adviser, or entrepreneur -- or aspire to be one --  you’re supposed to understand clinical trial results. But what if you’re not an expert in study design or biostatistics? The Pharmagellan Guide to Analyzing Biotech Clinical Trials will give you the foundation you need to analyze journal articles, press releases, and investor presentations about studies of new drugs with more confidence.

Cancer Stem Cells

By Lucie Laplane,

Book cover of Cancer Stem Cells: Philosophy and Therapies

You don’t often get philosophers delving into the biomedical sciences. They mostly prefer physics and cosmology. But there are great pickings in the other sciences too! 

Laplane considers the various proposed attributes of stem cells and classifies these as categorical, dispositional, relational, and system-based. She concludes that stem cells do comprise a "natural kind" i.e. a real thing, out there, not just a figment of our imagination. What emerges from this critical evaluation is that we should think not about stem cells as such but about stem-type behaviors that may be shown by various cell populations in specific circumstances. Defining stem cells is slippery and difficult, but defining stem cell behavior is relatively easy, and stem cell behavior is real and important.

Who am I?

I spent my career in developmental biology: the science of how embryos develop. My main discovery was the discovery of one of the signals that controls development, called the fibroblast growth factor. Stem cell biology grew up on the basis of previous discoveries in developmental biology, and now, every day, people around the world use fibroblast growth factor among other substances to control the development of their stem cells. From 2007-2012 I was Director of the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota, so I got a good inside view of the whole field.

I wrote...

Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction

By Jonathan Slack,

Book cover of Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction

What is my book about?

The topic of stem cells has a high profile in the media. We've made important advances in scientific understanding, but despite this, the clinical applications of stem cells are still in their infancy and most real stem cell therapy carried out today is some form of bone marrow transplantation. In this Very Short Introduction, I introduce stem cells, explore what they are, and what scientists do with them.

Introducing both embryonic and tissue-specific stem cells, I explain how they can be used to treat diseases such as retinal degeneration, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and spinal trauma. I also warn against fake stem cell treatments and discuss how to distinguish real from fake treatments.

A Glimpse of My Heart

By Delraya Anstine RN OCN,

Book cover of A Glimpse of My Heart: One Nurse's Story

Television has offered movies and series with nurses as the primary protagonists, but few books narrate the gritty lived experience of RNs. A Glimpse of My Heart is one that does, sharing her story in a light but informative tone that makes the book very readable despite the grim realities of cancer nursing. 

Who am I?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

I wrote...

Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

By Cheryl Dellasega,

Book cover of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

What is my book about?

Nurse-to-nurse incivility and relational aggression can poison the work environment of virtually any organization. My work shares practical solutions from real-life professional conflicts nurses face and offers suggestions for coping with and preventing relational aggression. 

Outside the Box Cancer Therapies

By Mark Stengler, Paul Anderson,

Book cover of Outside the Box Cancer Therapies: Alternative Therapies That Treat and Prevent Cancer

Many holistic cancer treatments exist, but how do you separate hype from effective, evidence-based therapies? Authored by two seasoned naturopathic oncologists, Outside the Box Cancer Therapies is a meticulously referenced guidebook to what’s working right now in integrative oncology. Many forward-thinking cancer clinics are employing naturopathic oncologists and are consistently getting better outcomes combining therapies, such as intravenous vitamin C, alongside conventional oncology protocols. This book will give you the confidence and the research to best communicate options with your healthcare team.

Who am I?

I was 32 when diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a clinician, and now cancer survivor, I’ve become increasingly focused on empowering cancer patients through and beyond remission. Nearly two decades of clinical practice have taught me that an informed and committed patient makes better decisions about their care, harmoniously interfaces with their healthcare team, and stays focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve read countless books about cancer, but this list outlines the essentials that I recommend to patients beginning their healing journey.

I wrote...

Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

By Brandon LaGreca,

Book cover of Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

What is my book about?

I believe the most important anticancer strategy is an engaged and healing mindset. Cancer, Stress & Mindset explores the contribution of stress to the initiation and progression of cancer; how stress affects the body and mind; and simple strategies to cope with the stress of being a cancer patient, from diagnosis through remission. This is the book I needed at the onset of my cancer journey, mired in the stresses of decisions related to my care. Years later, I wrote this as a starting point to help patients and caregivers cultivate an anticancer mindset.

How to Starve Cancer

By Jane McLelland,

Book cover of How to Starve Cancer

I recommend this award-winning book written by a woman who fought cancer successfully 3 times. In this book, she demonstrates bravery and expertise in this subject. This book is exceptionally written with a lot of research within and outside the medical field. Despite her own challenges, her compassion shines through. From reading this book, I found it very healing to understand cancer and how following certain protocols can help the disease to remission.  I love how this book helped my friend affected by cancer and many other people, and I sense the author has saved many lives

The value I got from the book was an understanding of how cancer works and whether affected by cancer or not, how making changes in our everyday life can help aid remission and aid healing of the body.

Who am I?

I have expertise in the area of spirituality and alternative health from working for over 20 years as a shamanic practitioner, spiritual teacher, and healer. I have travelled extensively and trained with many renowned teachers all over the world. I also provide ancestral healing and train students to be ancestral healers. Through my own healing journey, I have studied many healing and alternative approaches to wellness. I have studied extensively with plants and herbs. In 2020 I wrote my award-winning book Illumination of the Shadow, which explores ancestral healing. I have always had an interest in books in the mind, body, and spirit area, and read extensively in this area.

I wrote...

Illumination of the Shadow: Ancestral Wisdom from the past for the future

By Anthea Durand,

Book cover of Illumination of the Shadow: Ancestral Wisdom from the past for the future

What is my book about?

Imagine tracking back thousands of years to the origin of a repeated ancestral illness, for example, depression in your ancestral field. This award-winning book demonstrates that this is possible and how this wisdom can help transform your life. The real-life ancestral stories shared in this book are reflections of ancestral experiences on earth

Shadow work, looking into our own shadow and that of the collective and your ancestors, is the key to healing, spiritual evolution, and development. Healing ancestral patterns is the key to shadow work; it frees the individual from that which does not serve anymore. This book includes exercises and great wisdom to help you heal your life. It also includes 30 powerful illustrations, to aid the healing journey through the book.

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