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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Becket Gremmels, BA (Saint Louis University)
Description: The contributors to this book deal with a variety of ethical issues related to the care of cancer patients in an accessible, nontechnical manner. Seven new chapters have been added to this second edition, and the remainder have been updated. The first edition was published in 1999.
Purpose: The editor's aim is three-fold: to raise awareness of ethical issues, to help caregivers prepare themselves better for addressing these types of issues, and to persuade healthcare teams to take ethical conflicts seriously. While most chapters meet these goals, some arguments and expositions are not as sophisticated as they might be.
Audience: The authors' varied backgrounds make the book, which is intended for physicians, nurses, students, educators and ethicists, accessible to a wide range of readers. While not written for patients, the inclusion of a cancer survivor as a contributor makes the book of interest to cancer sufferers and other patients who want to understand the perspectives of their caregivers.
Features: Contributions cover such topics as patients' spiritual needs, the openness and communication between patients and physicians, determining medical errors and how best to disclose them, futility in oncology, ethics of human research, and others. Of particular note is a letter from a cancer survivor to physicians, relating his story and emphasizing the importance of the physician's demeanor when interacting with the patient.
Assessment: The variety of authors, revision of old chapters, and the addition of seven new chapters all make this a significant improvement over the first edition. Contributors not only discuss ethical theories, but also provide practical steps and frameworks for implementing them at the bedside. Several competing viewpoints are not as intricately discussed as some might like, but the depth and breadth of content make up for this drawback.