Siddhartha Mukherjee

  • Aired:  11/28/11
  •  | Views: 15,318

Pulitzer Prize winning author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee discusses the history and science of cancer. (5:20)

WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS WRITTEN

THE EMPEROR OF MALADIES, A

BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER.

AND IT IS SAID AT THE

END-- SAD, CANCER GET HITS

BY A BUS.

PLEASE WELCOME SIDDHARTHA

MUKHERJEE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

JOINING ME.

NOW AS I SAID, YOUR BOOK IS

A PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING,

THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES,

A BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER.

NOW I KNOW THIS IS ABOUT

CANCER BUT LET'S KEEP IT

LIGHT, OKAY.

WHAT, WHAT I SAID OVER THERE

ABOUT CANCER GETTING HIT BY

A BUS, WHY THAT MAKES SENSE

TO ME IS THAT CATCH

CERTIFICATE FEELS LIKE AN

ALIEN LIVING THING IN A

BODY.

IT'S DOING WHAT IT WANTS.

IS IT LIKE ANOTHER LIVING

THING IN YOU?

>> IN SOME WAYS IT IS, BUT

WHAT'S REALLY, REALLY TRICKY,

AND THIS WAS THE REALIZATION

THAT SENT A REAL CHILL UP

THE SPINES OF ALL THE

BIOLOGISTS AND SCIENTISTS

SINCE THE 197 0S.

WHAT IS REALLY TRICKY IS

THAT THE VERY GENES THAT

CAUSE YOUR NORMAL CELLS TO

GROW, IF YOU CORRUPT THOSE

GENES, THAT IS WHAT CAUSES

CANCER TO GROW.

THE VERY GENES THAT CAUSE

YOUR EMBRYO TO GROW, IF YOU

CORRUPT THOSE GENES, IF

THOSE GENES STOP WORKING

PROPERLY, THAT'S WHAT MAKE

CANCER CELLS GROW.

SO IT IS NOT AN ALIEN BEING

IN THE SENSE IT IS NOT

COMPLETELY OUTSIDE YOUR BODY,

COMES FROM THE VERY GENETIC

MATERIAL THAT IS OUTSIDE

YOUR BODY.

>> Stephen: BUT EVERY CANCER

CELL SAY LIVING CELL.

>> IT IS A LIVING CELL.

>> Stephen: CAN CANCER GET

SICK.

CAN CANCER GET A DISEASE?

>> IF YOU GIVE THE RIGHT

KIND OF TREATMENT, FOR

EXAMPLE, THE PROPER KIND OF

CHEMOTHERAPY YOU CAN MAKE

CANCER CELLS SICK AND KILL

THE CANCER CELLS WHILE

SPARING THE NORMAL CELLS.

AND THAT IS THE DREAM.

THAT IS THE GOAL OF ALL

CANCER CHEMOTHERAPY IS TO

TRY TO KILL CANCER WHILE

SPARING THE NORMAL.

>> Stephen: NOW WE HAVE HAD

A SORT OF WAR ON CANCER.

>> UH-HUH.

>> Stephen: SINCE 1971, IN

THE UNITED STATES.

WHAT ARE OUR WEAPONS IN THE

WAR.

>> WELL, THE MAJOR WEAPON IN

THE WAR IS PREVENTION.

IF WE COULD PREVENT CANCERS

FROM EVEN HAPPENING WHEN WE

WOULD BE REALLY TURN THIS

WAR AROUND.

>> Stephen: HOW DO WE DO

THAT WHAT DO I DO TO NOT

GET-- BY THE WAY WHAT

PERCENTAGE OF

AMERICANS-- LIKE AMERICAN

MEN WHAT PERCENTAGE GET

CANCER.

>> WELL, ONE IN TWO MEN WILL

BE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER IN

AMERICA.

>> Stephen: ONE IN TWO MEN.

>> Stephen: THAT MEANS ONE

OF THE TWO OF US.

>> THAT COULD MEAN ONE OF

THE OF TWO US-- .

>> Stephen: I'LL FLIP YOU

FOR.

SO WHAT CAN I DO TO NOT GET

CANCER.

>> WELL, YOU COULD BEGIN BY

NOT SMOKING.

>> Stephen: I DON'T.

>> YOU COULD MAINTAIN A

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, INCLUDING

A DIET THAT-- .

>> Stephen: BACON?

>> DOES THAT INCLUDE SMOKED

MEATS.

>> IN GREAT MODERATION.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

>> AND YOU KNOW, WE NOW KNOW

THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN

BEHAVIORS LIKE EXPOSURE TO

CERTAIN VIRUSES, IN CERTAIN

POPULATIONS WILL CAUSE

CANCER.

SO FOR INSTANCE,

PAPILLOMAVIRUS IS A CANCER

THAT CAUSES CERVICAL CANCER,

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED VIRUS

SO AGAIN-- .

>> Stephen: I THINK RICK

PERRY CURED THAT, PRETTY

SURE HE CURED THAT ONE.

>> WELL, YOU COULD

GET-- CERTAIN PEOPLE CAN GET

VACCINATED AGAINST THAT FORM

OF CANCER.

>> Stephen: HOW OLD IS OUR

KNOWLEDGE OF CANCER?

>> WELL, IT'S SURPRISING.

YOU THINK THAT CANCER IS A

MODERN DISEASE BUT IT ISN'T.

>> Stephen: I DO.

>> BUT IT ISN'T, IN FACT,

WHAT IS INTERESTING IS THE

VERY OLDEST MEDICAL

MANUSCRIPTS THAT WE HAVE,

2,500 BC CONTAINS A CASE

THAT RESEMBLES BREAST

CANCER.

THAT IS AN EGYPTIAN

MANUSCRIPT SO, IT'S NOT ONLY

ONE OF THE OLD DISEASES,

IT'S ONE OF THE OLDEST

DISEASES PROBABLY THAT WE

EVER KNEW ABOUT.

>> DO WE KNOW WHETHER WE GET

IT MORE, I THINK WE THINK OF

IT AS A MODERN DISEASE T

FEELS LIKE MORE AND MORE

THINGS GIVE US CANCER.

THAT IS SORT OF IN MY, THAT

IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ME

AND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE IS

MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHATEVER

ARE YOU GOING TO SAY.

SO-- DO WE HAVE GOOD RECORDS

BEFORE THE INDUSTRIAL

REVOLUTION OF PEOPLE GETTING

CANCER?

>> WE HAVE RECORDS, THEY'RE

NOT GREAT BUT WE HAVE SOME

RECORDS.

HERE IS THE MAJOR DRIVER IS

AGING.

CANCER IN MANY CANCERS ARE

AGE-RELATED.

FOR INSTANCE BREAST CANCER,

VERY, VERY DEEPLY

AGE-RELATED.

PROSTATE CAN SER VERY DEEPLY

AGE-RELATED.

>> Stephen: IS THE FACT THAT

WE LIVE LONGER NOW MEAN WE

ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET

CANCER.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

WE'VE KILLED OFF OTHER

KILLERS.

>> Stephen: WOW.

SO MEDICINE IS OUR OWN WORST

ENEMY.

>> IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING.

>> Stephen: YES, I JUST

SPOKE IN THAT MANNER.

(LAUGHTER)

ARE WE GOING TO CURE THIS

THING?

ARE WE ON THE ROAD TO CURING

CANCER.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

AGAIN, WE'LL PREVENT SOME.

WE'LL BE ABLE TO TREAT SOME.

WE'LL BE ABLE TO CURE SOME

AND IT WILL BE A BIG

SPECTRUM.

NOT EVERY CANCER WILL BE THE

SAME.

FOR INSTANCE CHILDHOOD

LEUKEMIA WAS 100 PERCENT

LETHAL IN THE 19 '50s.

WE NOW CURE -- 0% OF THOSE

CHILDREN WITH-- TESS

PARTICULAR YOU LAR CANCER

WAS 100LET AG WE NOW CURE

MANY OF THEM.

LIMB FOAMAN, EVEN BREAST

CANCER IT SAY SPECTRUM, SOME

WE WILL TREAT, SOME WE WILL

CURE.

>> Stephen: THANK YOU FOR

EVERYTHING DOW TO TRY TO PUT

AN ENDING TO THIS BOOK.

>> I TRY TO WRITE THE

ENDING.

>> Stephen: DOCTOR, THANK

YOU SO MUCH.

SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE, THE