Description: This is the third edition of the most comprehensive and complete textbook of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) available. The second edition was published in 1999.
Purpose: The breadth of knowledge in the field of HSCT has increased significantly over the last five years. The purpose is to thoroughly revise the previous edition so that this information is documented and critically evaluated. These are important objectives that ensure the book's relevance. The addition of several new chapters along with revamping of other chapters has made the book complete, comprehensive, and reasonably current, and has fulfilled the editors' stated objectives.
Audience: The book is primarily targeted at physicians and scientists working in the field of HSCT. Trainees in the field as well as physicians from other specialties who interact with transplant physicians are also likely to find relevant chapters useful as a reference source. Its sheer size and depth precludes it from being used as a book one could sit down with and read from cover to cover to get an idea of HSCT. There have been miniguides in the past which have enabled this, and these may still be the primary source of knowledge to those who are not directly working in the field. The editors credible authorities who are world renowned. Most contributors are also well known in the field.
Features: The book covers every conceivable topic related to HSCT such as hematopoietic stem cells and their biology, pharmacology of high-dose therapy, complications and their management, and clinical results. Additional chapters on history, statistics, transplant registries, regulatory issues, nursing aspects, ethics, and patient issues such as quality of life add up to a total of 110 chapters. All chapters are informative and some are excellent. Of particular note is the one on gastrointestinal and hepatic complications by Strasser and McDonald. At 42 pages, over 700 references, and several practically useful flow charts, it is the most outstanding account of this complex subject I have seen. There is significant redundancy in some of the chapters covering clinical results for specific diseases where much space and a very large number of references have been devoted to a description of the underlying disease itself something that probably has no place in a specialized textbook. It is also debatable whether in utero transplantation merits a chapter of its own. Do "Histocompatibility" and "Functional evolution of the major histocompatibility complex" need to be separate chapters? However, these are minor concerns that do not detract from the utility of the book.
Assessment: Overall, the book is excellent and offers a breadth and depth of knowledge of the field that only one other book can match. The noteworthy competitor is Clinical Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation by Atkinson, et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2004). The Atkinson work has a considerably more international perspective whereas the Thomas book is almost completely limited to North America. The first two editions of the Atkinson work were smaller and therefore friendlier. The third editions of both books are equally lengthy. This edition is sufficiently different from the previous one because of evolution of the field and comprehensive coverage of the changes to justify replacing the second edition.