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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Melissa L. Johnson, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This compilation of articles is meant to be a complementary, contemporary companion for the encyclopedic DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 8th edition, DeVita et al. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008). It is the first in a series of annual volumes of articles collected from The Cancer Journal: Principles & Practices of Oncology.
Purpose: The editors' aim is to assemble the opinion of experts on the cutting edge of their respective research fields in an inclusive publication that would appeal to a variety of oncology practitioners, regardless of specialty or experience. The authors point out that in this Internet era, finding information to help make medical decisions is not a problem, but discerning which data to apply to one's own practice is more difficult. The authors have succeeded in assembling a collection of well-written commentaries from a number of experts on diverse topics. Although this is only the first volume, and the topics seem a bit arbitrary, with additional volumes, the breadth of subjects covered would gradually become as extensive and comprehensive as a traditional oncology textbook.
Audience: Given the variety of topics and the expert fashion in which they are discussed, this book will indeed be "valuable to both the [oncology] novice and the seasoned investigator." Among the contributors are a large number of highly-regarded oncologists with international reputations, not the least of which, the three editors, who are famous for their contributions to the field.
Features: The articles included in the book are written by respected specialists in a number of medical, surgical, and radiation oncology disciplines. Each group of articles is unified by an introduction which effectively sets the stage for the topics to come and explains their relative importance in the field of oncology. In this way, readers with limited time can pick and choose the sections that interest them. The overarching motif which emerges from the different sections is innovation: newly appreciated side-effects from conventional chemotherapy; revolutionary surgical practices that have enabled technological advances; increasing roles for particle radiation therapy; improved sophistication in clinical trial methodology; and the emergence of genetically-targeted therapy paradigms. The book is well organized, which enhances reader comprehension and enjoyment. The use of color headings and photographs breaks up pages of black-and-white print, further promoting readability.
Assessment: This is a well-rounded representation of cancer-related topics, and a good supplement to the scope of a traditional oncology textbook. Each section is well written by experts whose opinions I trust. As a junior oncologist in a specialized area of clinical investigation, I found a lot of the material was new to me, but it is organized in short, practical segments that make it a manageable, even enjoyable, read from cover-to-cover as well as a useful reference in my growing collection of oncology resources.