The 1995 Cancer Treatment edited by Dr. Charles Haskell
is the fourth edition of his original textbook published in 1980.
Cancer Treatment has kept pace with advances in oncology
over these 15 years, and the fourth edition includes new chapters
on cancer prevention, cancer screening, biologic therapy, gene
therapy, clinical trial design, cancer and pregnancy, hematologic
complications of treatment, local-regional therapy of lung and
liver metastases, and AIDS-related lymphoma. The 1995 edition
also includes 68 new authors.
Dr. Haskell dedicates his book to "postgraduate physicians
training to become medical oncologists." This is gratifying
recognition for those physicians- in-training who diligently work
to enroll and treat patients in clinical trials, which are essential
to advances in oncologic research and care. As in previous editions,
the emphasis of the book is on critical review of state-of-the-art
cancer treatment, with practical recommendations for cancer management.
The text is divided into two parts, the first covering general
topics and the second, the diagnosis and treatment of specific
neoplasms. The general topics in part 1 include discussions of
the increasingly important areas of cancer prevention, molecular
biology, and translational research. The chapter on antineoplastic
agents is a good reference source. It lists drugs alphabetically,
rather than according to common mechanisms of action.
On the negative side, two statements in the pain management chapter-"for
good reason we have seen the growth of the Hemlock Society, the
emergence of Dr. Kevorkian, and repeated attempts to legalize
euthanasia . . ." (page 227), and "[physician fears
of legal prosecution for providing opiate analgesia prescription]
are fostered by the witch-hunt mentality pervading some states'
medical board personnel" (page 228)-are value judgements.
Rather than improving pain control for cancer patients, this adversarial
approach may have just the opposite effect.
The chapter on paraneoplastic syndromes and the section on investigational
therapy are well written.
Part 2 on specific neoplasms is the primary emphasis of the text,
and sections are organized according to organ system, with chapters
devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of neoplasms within each
system. Individual chapters are succinct, easily readable, and
frequently summarize the molecular biology, histology, staging,
diagnosis, treatment, and clinical trials pertinent to the malignancy
in table and figure format.
Particularly useful are the "Summary of Treatment" and
"Summary of Treatment by Stage of Disease" paragraphs
at the end of most chapters, which distill the medical literature
into standard-of-care options and recommendations for disease
management. If a standard of care has not been established, this
is acknowledged fully, and the author's personal or institutional
approach to the disease is presented.
Chapters are also well referenced and include editorial suggestions
for additional reading. Noteworthy sections include those on breast
cancer, which include seven chapters exploring its natural history,
in situ disease, local surgical and radiation treatment, adjuvant
therapy, and treatment of metastatic disease; neoplasms of the
gastrointestinal system; myeloid neoplasms; and lymphoid neoplasms.
Cancer Treatment, 4th Edition, fills a niche between
simple medical oncology handbooks limited by their brevity and
all-encompassing textbooks limited by their thoroughness. It is
a valuable resource for all health-care professionals involved
in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malignancy.