Cancer specialist Professor Bob Pinedo will never forget the faces of all those patients deemed beyond help. In the 1970s, the presence of metastases meant that a patient’s condition was considered incurable. Nor was there any effective pain management. The cries of cancer patients would sometimes echo down the bleak hospital corridors. ‘In those early days’ – the ‘Stone Age’ of cancer treatment – ‘we couldn’t offer patients much. There was almost no way of treating cancer.’
But now, fifty years on… Countless cancer treatments are available and patients no longer have to live their lives in pain. Mini-organs and tumors are cultivated in laboratories from the cells of individual patients to establish which drugs will be most effective in combating their cancer. Moreover, a cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. An increasingly high proportion of patients survive.
In this biographical sketch, Professor Pinedo, now a second-opinion doctor, looks back on half a century of cancer medicine, a history in which he has played a major role as a builder of bridges between patients and the medical profession. ‘A great deal has been achieved, but the puzzle we know as cancer is incredibly complex. The unending search for solutions continues.’
René Steenhorst is a medical journalist for Dutch national newspaper De Telegraaf. His work has been recognized by the Dutch Cancer Society.
Bob Pinedo is Emeritus Professor of Medical Oncology at VU Amsterdam. He is one of the Netherlands’ most decorated cancer specialists and the recipient of many international awards. He continues to play a very active role in cancer research, both in the Netherlands and on Curaçao.