Introduction

It’s tempting to start right off with an apology for the word “breakthrough,” a word that—depending on your point of view—can be as tedious as an overhyped headline or seductive as a brightly wrapped gift. Either way, it’s hard to resist wondering, What breakthrough? A cure for cancer, an easy way to lose weight, the secret to living forever? But this isn’t that kind of book, and apologies seem unnecessary when you’re talking about the ten greatest breakthroughs in all of medicine. Sadly, none involve easy weight loss or living forever. However, all are arguably more important because they meet three essential criteria: 1) They saved, improved, or reduced suffering in millions of lives; 2) They changed the practice of medicine; ...

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