George Johnson is a successful American science writer mostly publishing on physics and cosmology. When his wife Nancy discovered a lump on the inside of her right groin the diagnosis was metastatic endometrial cancer - a cancer of the womb which has spread via the lymphatic system. The five year survival rate for a cancer as advanced as this is 15%.
Johnson determines to investigate the state of the art in the causes and treatment of cancer as he supports his wife through surgery, radiation- and chemo-therapy. The result is this book.
To understand cancer is to understand how human cells work. Complexity layers upon complexity - the machinery of cell operation, communications and replication is beyond current comprehension. Johnson's guided tour is as good as the non-specialist is likely to get.
The ending is doubly-sad, but not as the reader was expecting.