Outline of Oncology Therapeutics is a well-written, concise, and up-to-date book providing detailed descriptions of a variety of medications and issues important to the overall care and treatment of patients with cancer. Oncology practice today demands that physicians, nurses, and pharmacists have, at the very least, comprehensive knowledge of antineoplastic agents, antiemetics, and analgesics. The intent of the book is to offer oncology care providers from different disciplines quick and easy access to relevant clinical information.
The first 10 chapters organize chemotherapeutic agents according to their mechanism of action: DNA-binding agents, antimicrotubule agents, topoisomerase inhibitors, regional therapy, and so forth. Each drug is described succinctly by its uses, dosing schedule, pharmacokinetics, toxicity, recommendations for supportive care, pharmacy issues, and nursing considerations. When applicable, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval status and indication for approval of the chemotherapy drug are mentioned. This information becomes important when discussing treatment options with patients.
Interestingly, newer investigational drugs including homoharringtonine, suramin, and valspodar are discussed, because of their use in clinical trials and promise of future FDA approval. Knowledge of these agents is important for practicing physicians in the community who may be treating patients enrolled in clinical trials.
By including categories such as supportive care and nursing considerations, within each chapter the editors emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. These chapters, written by well-recognized experts in various fields, contribute to the clarity and organization of the material.
Other categories that would have added useful information but were omitted from the book include drug-drug interactions and contraindications. Further, although general references to the main chemotherapy regimens are provided, specific footnoted references to each of the listed dosing schedules would have been helpful.
The second part of the book focuses on the prevention and treatment of toxicity and the complications of disease. This section is particularly helpful to physicians in training and to those practicing primarily outpatient care. Algorithms for the management of hypercalcemia and a detailed chapter on neutropenic fever are examples of the excellent reviews of complicated issues. Moreover, the antiemetic and analgesic chapters provide tables that are easily referenced for quick answers.
Nonetheless, this section would have been more useful if illustrations of common capsules and tablets, such as analgesic drugs, had been included. Patients taking multiple medications often forget the names of their medication. It would be helpful to the nonpharmacist health-care provider to be able to reference a description of the pills with the drug names.
The last chapter of the book, which details various catheters and pumps, is one of the most useful and informative. Due to the growing demand for such instruments and rapid advances in technology, many different venous access devices are available. Each section of this chapter provides clear illustrations of frequently used devices and reviews the risks/benefits, clinical assessment, and issues related to teaching patients and their families how to use these tools. Thus, the information is not only valuable for physicians and nurses, but also for patients.
Overall, Outline of Oncology Therapeutics is a comprehensive resource that is both practical and useful. It will serve as an excellent addition to any oncology health-care provider’s collection of references.