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Book Review: Progress in Anti-Cancer Chemotherapy, Volume II

Book Review: Progress in Anti-Cancer Chemotherapy, Volume II

The book Progress in Anti-Cancer Chemotherapy, Volume II is the second of a series of three books edited by Drs. Hortobagyi and Khayat, and published by different publishing houses between 1998 and 1999. Volume II is a collection of 20 chapters (grouped into distinct sections) written by a diverse and knowledgeable group of authors from the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. In fact, one can easily be fooled by the title of this book. With topics ranging from the molecular genetics of leukemia to virtual endoscopic techniques and the surgical treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma, a more appropriate title for this book might have been Progress in Anti-Cancer Therapy.

Collections such as this one often suffer from a lack of consistent editorial guidance, uneven quality of writing styles, and a frequent overlap of topics covered in different chapters. Hortobagyi and Khayat are to be commended for having selected quite a diverse set of topics written in an engaging manner by an experienced group of investigators. This small book covers a variety of research topics and clinical subjects that will be of interest to the general practicing oncologist. Many academic-based investigators may also find this book of interest, despite the not so infrequent subspecialized nature of their clinical and research activities.

The book is divided into seven parts. Part I (Advances in Cancer Biology) is a limited review of the cytogenetics of acute leukemias and potential therapeutic impact by Freireich and Albitar. Part II (New Diagnostic Methods) consists of one interesting chapter by Buthiau et al on virtual endoscopy—a technique that is likely to achieve a status of clinical utility in the not-so-distant future. Part III (Clinical Pharmacology) includes a brief discussion of antisense therapy in leukemias by Tari and Lopez-Berestein; a concise, well-written historical perspective on the biology, pharmacology, and therapeutic role of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) by O’Regan and Jordan; and a good summary of existing and novel biochemical modulation of antimetabolites by Mani and Schilsky.

Part IV (Novel Therapeutic Approaches) consists of five diverse chapters: Rousselot and Chomienne provide a brief discussion on differentiation therapy using retinoids, myeloid factors, and butyric acid, while Nanakorn and coauthors cover the potential role of gene therapy as well as different vectors/delivery systems and their potential use in chemoprotection, sensitization, immunoenhancement, and drug discovery. Mendelsohn briefly reviews the rationale for epidermal growth factor receptor-targeted therapy. Hamilton and Piccart offer the most comprehensive of all chapters in this volume, covering novel strategies in breast cancer treatment, including hormonal therapies and the potential manipulation of growth factor receptor, cell cycle/apoptosis, and angiogenesis pathways. Laing et al review the coordinate expression of drug-resistance genes.

In Part V (New Developments in Surgical Oncology), Bismuth and coauthors discuss an interesting strategy of aggressive screening in high-risk individuals and present encouraging data on liver transplantation in early-stage hepatoma, while Pollock and Miller review surgical techniques for the treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma and potential in vitro research models. In Part VI (Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer) Papadimitrakopoulou and Hong address the implications of molecular genetics for chemoprevention, and Lefebvre illuminates the continuing evolution of larynx preservation strategies.

Finally, Part VII features discussions on the multidisciplinary management of a variety of diseases: Amadori et al present a useful primer on the management of neuroendocrine tumors; Diaz-Rubio and colleagues discuss chemotherapy regimens in gastric cancer; and Taguchi reviews the Japanese experience in this disease. Eschwege and Lusinchi review current and ongoing questions in the combined-modality treatment of anal canal cancer, Raghavan reviews chemotherapy options in advanced bladder cancer, and Shapiro offers a short, well-written summary of the multimodality treatment of gliomas.

There are several collections of review articles that add little to the existing plethora of published information. This book, edited by Hortobagyi and Khayat, belongs to the small group of publications that have succeeded in their goal of providing "useful information for our reader’s clinical activities, and food for thought in their research endeavors."

While I did not review volumes I and III, this second volume in the series leads me to believe that the editors have fulfilled their promise of creating a reference work that is "a continuous cycle of updated information in state-of-the-art management and exciting discoveries on the verge of clinical application." It should be noted, however, that this is one of those books that well illustrates an often curious inverse relationship between size and cost. Unfortunately, this is a factor that could dissuade many potential readers from purchasing it.

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