Description: The authors have written a pocket-sized book for basic, rapid reference for symptom management in cancer patients.
Purpose: This book is part of series which focuses on the practical management of common malignancies. The authors target an audience of practicing oncologists or "anyone involved with the care of cancer patients." Many oncologists certainly could benefit from improved symptom management, communication, and other aspects of palliative care.
Audience: "[This] series of handbooks focusing on the practical management of common malignancies...is recommended...to anyone involved with the care of cancer patients," according to the editors in the preface. This book is introductory in content, informal in voice, superficial in depth, and appropriate for students, housestaff, or practitioners. The authors are part of the pain and palliative care service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, a respected oncologic institution.
Features: This is a concise reference on a variety of issues facing cancer patients as they near the end of life. The authors address a variety of common symptoms, including pain, neuropathic pain, nausea, constipation, bowel obstruction, dyspnea, depression, and fatigue. The authors also deal with communication barriers, physician stress, medication management, opioid conversions, and pain procedures. The index is accurate and easy to search. The book is introductory in scope and curious readers or experienced providers may find it too basic.
Assessment: The book will have a limited audience, but it is useful as an introduction to some of the issues in palliative medicine. The structure and organization of the chapters is disjointed, but the index is readily searchable. The book uses quotations from pop culture (often with unclear relation to the text) and thus may appeal to students, but may offend older readers. I am unaware of other pocket-sized books oriented towards palliative care explicitly for cancer patients and, as such, the book is unique. There are several other portable palliative care reference books which contain more in-depth information.