Reviewer: Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book summarizes the multidisciplinary issues involved in caring for patients with advanced malignancies. It describes the psychosocial management of patients with cancer in addition to making specific recommendations for the medical management of associated symptoms. It is the third edition of a work first published in 1984.
Purpose: The editors provide an authoritative practical guide to the provision of palliative care to patients with cancer. Palliative care refers to the multidisciplinary management of patients with advanced malignancy for whom disease-oriented, "creative" therapy is no longer appropriate.
Audience: The book is intended as a reference for physicians and other health care professionals who are serious about providing excellent palliative care. It could serve as a text for those training in this field. The editors and many of the contributors are pioneers and innovators in the field.
Features: The book features clear headings and subheadings in each chapter. This makes it easy to use as a quick reference handbook. Therapeutic options are clearly summarized in table form.
Assessment: This is a superb book for those working in hospices or related programs. It is, however, written from the distinct viewpoint of professionals working in Great Britain. Readers practicing in the U.S. or other countries will need to adopt the recommendations to local practice patterns. For U.S. physicians, this is most problematic for drugs and routes of delivery that are not available or are underutilized in this country. The book is valuable in that its level of sophistication far exceeds any U.S. contributions. It represents the distilled wisdom from extensive clinical experience. It is from this clinical experience that the book achieves its authority.