Understanding Cancer: A Patient's Guide to Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment / Edition 2

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The greatest need of anyone with cancer is to understand the disease—its diagnosis, treatment options, and the often devastating experience of having cancer. In Understanding Cancer, Dr. C. Norman Coleman explains how to gather information about treatments and how to interpret that information to make decisions. He helps the person with cancer prepare for visits to doctors and the hospital and to make those visits as productive as possible. He distills the often complex medical terms and concepts underlying the statistics and percentages used to characterize medical conditions. With clear, in-depth discussions of pretreatment staging of disease, the biology of cancer, how successful treatment is defined, and how best to manage one's time, Understanding Cancer helps people with cancer and their families become active participants in the decision-making process.

In the second edition of this highly respected guide, Dr. Coleman describes new treatments that target specific types of cancer as well as treatments that are designed for a particular individual. He discusses the era of molecular medicine, including biomarkers, novel imaging, molecular signatures and profiling, and molecular-targeted therapy. Many of these therapies are currently only available through a clinical trial, so Dr. Coleman includes a detailed discussion of what is involved in participating in research trials.

Compassionate, accessible, and informative, Understanding Cancer will increase the reader's knowledge of medical concepts and terms so the person with cancer, the family, and the health care team can work together efficiently—and effectively.

Johns Hopkins University Press

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Melody L. McKinney, DNS, RN (Indiana State University)
Description: Achieving success in cancer care is best accomplished with the active involvement of the patient and family. This book addresses the challenge of educating patients and families about participating in care and decision-making under the intense conditions often associated with a recent cancer diagnosis. As in the previous edition, an experienced radiation oncologist provides up-to-date basic cancer information. The new edition increases the emphasis on clinical trials and covers new treatments targeting specific types of cancer, individualized treatment, and molecular medicine therapies such as biomarkers, novel imaging, molecular signatures and profiling, and molecular-targeted therapy.
Purpose: This is intended to provide the information needed by patients and families to make informed treatment decisions and to increase their comfort level in managing life after a cancer diagnosis.
Audience: This book would be useful to the cancer patient, as well as to family, friends, and lay and professional caregivers. The author is an expert with over three decades of experience in the field of oncology.
Features: The nine chapters cover basic cancer topics such as what cancer is; diagnostic testing and staging; making treatment decisions; conventional treatments; molecular-targeted therapy; weighing risks and benefits; and clinical research trials. The final chapter includes four case studies that illustrate how decision treatments are made. The book also includes an index, bibliography, and four appendixes with information on cancer molecular biology, cost effectiveness, performance status scoring systems, and a patient checklist for recording diagnosis and treatment information.
Assessment: The author has met his goal to create a useful reference that provides cancer patients and their families with the information necessary to take an active role in treatment and management. This well written, up-to-date book is concise and easy to read and understand. Written in everyday language without being overly simplistic, the book provides clear explanations, examples, and practical advice that can serve as a framework for treatment decisions. Cancer is a life-altering experience and this book supports the author's belief that people with cancer can, with the appropriate tools, often lead fuller and more meaningful lives than they did before the diagnosis.
International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Well written and informative.

— Susan Walker


This book is of tremendous value to any cancer patient and their family. It provides the knowledge they need to take an active role in their treatment.

International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics - Susan Walker

Well written and informative.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801884184
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Edition description: second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

C. Norman Coleman, M.D., is associate director of the Radiation Oncology Sciences Program at the National Cancer Institute. He is a senior medical expert at the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and author of over two hundred scientific papers. Understanding Cancer is independent of his work at the National Cancer Institute.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Diagnosis and treatment : what you can expect 10
Ch. 2 Cancer : where does it come from? 28
Ch. 3 Diagnostic tests and staging studies : gathering information 43
Ch. 4 Making decisions about treatment : how success is measured 58
Ch. 5 Weighing the long-term risks and benefits of treatment 72
Ch. 6 Conventional treatments : an overview 85
Ch. 7 Molecular-targeted therapy 113
Ch. 8 Clinical research trials : what they're all about 119
Ch. 9 Clinical case studies : four patient stories 136
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