Dynamics of Cancer: Incidence, Inheritance, and Evolution

by Steven A. Frank

Summary from the back cover:

The onset of cancer presents one of the most fundamental problems in modern biology. In Dynamics of Cancer, Steven Frank produces the first comprehensive analysis of how particular genetic and environmental causes influence the age of onset.

The book provides a unique conceptual and historical framework for understanding the causes of cancer and other diseases that increase with age. Using a novel quantitative framework of reliability and multistage breakdown, Frank unifies molecular, demographic, and evolutionary levels of analysis. He interprets a wide variety of observations on the age of cancer onset, the genetic and environmental causes of disease, and the organization of tissues with regard to stem cell biology and somatic mutation. Frank uses new quantitative methods to tackle some of the classic problems in cancer biology and aging: how the rate of increase in the incidence of lung cancer declines after individuals quit smoking, the distinction between the dosage of a chemical carcinogen and the time of exposure, and the role of inherited genetic variation in familial patterns of cancer.

This is the only book that presents a full analysis of the age of cancer onset. It is a superb teaching tool and a rich source of ideas for new and experienced researchers. For cancer biologists, population geneticists, evolutionary biologists, and demographers interested in aging, this book provides new insight into disease progression, the inheritance of predisposition to disease, and the evolutionary processes that have shaped organismal design.

“As Frank observes, ‘Cancer is the failure of controls over cellular birth and death.’ Although a vast amount of work has gone into describing the molecular and cellular processes involved, an understanding of the overall dynamics of these processes is less advanced. This book combines empirical information with insights into the nonlinear dynamics of multistage progression, in ways that both illuminate and have practical implications. Anyone with serious interests in cancer research should read it.”
—Robert M. May, University of Oxford

“This is an excellent book on a very difficult but important subject. It does a superb job of introducing the various models for observed cancer frequencies and explaining their assumptions, conclusions, and weaknesses.”
—Darryl Shibata, University of Southern California

“This is a book of relentless scholarship, precise organization, and fundamental, interdisciplinary insights into the biology of cancer. It provides the first truly comprehensive theory for the epidemiological/genetic incidence curves that characterize cancer, the first solid integration of evolutionary genetics with cancer biology, and a rigorous, well-reasoned approach to progress in understanding the genetic and environmental bases of cancer.”
—Bernard Crespi, Simon Fraser University