Description: This handbook is a guide to chemotherapy drugs and other valuable information that is essential in the treatment of cancer. It is easy to read with a simple A to Z format of medications with each drug entry composed of important topics such as mechanism, indication and toxicity.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a reference for the use of the most common chemotherapy agents. This has been updated from last year as well as expanded. The first chapter gives an overview of the principles behind chemotherapy. Subsequent chapters provide concise information on individual drugs as well as dose modifications for renal and liver dysfunction. This book is necessary in the training and day-to-day practice of every oncologist and provides an easy to use reference at times of need. In most respects, the book meets the objectives of the author. However, it may have been more successful if it was smaller in size to fit in the white coat pocket and if both chapters 1 and 5 (antiemetic drugs) were abbreviated.
Audience: According to the author, the book is intended for the spectrum of medical professionals involved in the care of the cancer patient, from physicians to other healthcare professionals. It seems ideal for fellows in training and practicing oncologists. Dr. Chu is the chief of the oncology department at Yale and professor of medicine and pharmacology and Dr. DeVita is a well respected authority.
Features: As a reference, this book provides easily accessible information on chemotherapy agents and other aspects of their use. The first chapter on principles of chemotherapy may not actually be necessary as part of a "handbook." Although only 20 pages, it may be abbreviated or even omitted. The second chapter, the bulk of the book, includes the most common chemotherapy drugs in alphabetical order that makes it easy to find particular drugs. A unique feature is the inclusion of a biochemical drawing of each drug, but this is not essential. Each entry also includes valuable information such as trade name, classification, mechanism of action and resistance, metabolism, indications, dosing, interactions, and toxicity. Of note, toxicity is stated in order of most to least common, but placed in separate sections as toxicity 1, then 2, then 3, and so on. This could be simplified into just one section of toxicity. The third chapter on dosing modifications could be folded into the second chapter, with a notation for each drug about whether it should be dose adjusted for liver or renal disease. Chapter 4 covers commonly used regimens which also include the references pertaining to each regimen, a nice feature that allows users to find the paper and look at the details of the regimen on which it is based. Chapter 5 on antiemetic agents is presented in the same fashion as the chemotherapy drugs in chapter 3. This is a bit too much detail on drugs that are supportive medications and could also be abbreviated. Other overall features that are appreciated in this book include the spiral binding which makes it easy to turn pages and the large print which makes it easy to read.
Assessment: Overall, this handbook is a good reference for chemotherapy that provides valuable information to practicing oncologists. For the fellow in training, a smaller book would be much more appreciated. Compared to The Cancer Chemotherapy Handbook, 6th edition, by Fischer et al. (Mosby, 2004), this one essentially has similar information but is inferior because of its size. Also the handbook by Fischer includes short overviews on each type of cancer and separates toxicity into organ systems. As with any handbook on chemotherapy, it is essential that this one be updated yearly since there are always new drugs being approved.