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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Stephanie A. Cohen, MS (St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center)
Description: This book provides detailed information about common familial cancers as well as less well-known hereditary cancer syndromes. For each hereditary cancer type, the authors discuss risk assessment, genetic testing guidelines, and management recommendations for affected and at-risk individuals.
Purpose: Though there is no formal preface stating the editors' objectives, the book jacket states that they seek to make the typically highly specialized information on hereditary cancer syndromes accessible to a wider audience. Many providers, even specialists in oncology and genetics, shy away from the topic of hereditary cancer syndromes due to the complex nature of the information. This book is a very practical guide to hereditary cancer syndromes and achieves the goal of condensing the information into a useful format.
Audience: The book jacket states that it is written for specialists such as oncologists, nurses, genetic counselors, geneticists, and family doctors who do not currently provide specific cancer genetic services but presumably would have the background knowledge to do so. It is very useful for anyone in the position to provide genetic counseling and testing for hereditary cancers, regardless of their experience in the very specialized field of cancer genetics. The book does assume some basic genetics knowledge, which may be frustrating to some non-genetics specialists. The editors of the book and authors of the individual chapters may not be widely recognized by a North American audience, with the exception of the two chapters specifically addressing the North American experience that are written by two well-known and respected authors. Some of the authors are widely published in the area in which they wrote. However, it appears that a few chapters, though clearly written by knowledgeable cancer genetic professionals, were not written by authors in their area of expertise, on the basis of published literature on that topic.
Features: This book covers a wide variety of topics, including basic information on taking a pedigree and making a referral to a more sophisticated discussion of risk assessment and management of hereditary cancers. There are several chapters covering the more common hereditary cancers such as breast and colon, as well as rare hereditary cancer syndromes and less common hereditary cancers. The discussion of hereditary cancers includes features and diagnoses of the syndrome, differential diagnoses, molecular genetics, clinical testing, and management. The risk assessment tables are presented in a very useable format for clinical practice. The chapters on less common familial cancers and tumor predisposing syndromes were particularly useful summaries with nice references. The information is disappointingly limited on some of the more recent advances in hereditary cancer syndromes, including MYH and AFAP. Finally, the book was written primarily by European specialists, though there is an attempt to reach out to the North American audience with two chapters specific to this experience.
Assessment: Despite a few minor shortcomings, this comprehensive overview is a very practical guide that will be useful for both experienced cancer genetics professionals and novices. It will be a good teaching guide for medical and genetic counseling students who wish to gain more knowledge in the area of hereditary cancers. The compact and practical nature will make it a good addition to the bookshelf of specialists who wish to have a handy reference on cancer genetics.