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

December 1, 2000

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

The book Progress in Anti-CancerChemotherapy, Volume II is the second of a series of three books edited byDrs. Hortobagyi and Khayat, and published by different publishing houses between1998 and 1999. Volume II is a collection of 20 chapters (grouped into distinctsections) written by a diverse and knowledgeable group of authors from theUnited States, Western Europe, and Japan. In fact, one can easily be fooled bythe title of this book. With topics ranging from the molecular genetics ofleukemia to virtual endoscopic techniques and the surgical treatment ofsoft-tissue sarcoma, a more appropriate title for this book might have been Progressin Anti-Cancer Therapy.

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

The book is divided into seven parts. Part I (Advances in CancerBiology) is a limited review of the cytogenetics of acute leukemias andpotential therapeutic impact by Freireich and Albitar. Part II (NewDiagnostic Methods) consists of one interesting chapter by Buthiau et al onvirtual endoscopy—a technique that is likely to achieve a status of clinicalutility in the not-so-distant future. Part III (Clinical Pharmacology) includesa brief discussion of antisense therapy in leukemias by Tari andLopez-Berestein; a concise, well-written historical perspective on the biology,pharmacology, and therapeutic role of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) by O’Regan andJordan; and a good summary of existing and novel biochemical modulation ofantimetabolites by Mani and Schilsky.

Part IV (Novel Therapeutic Approaches) consists of five diversechapters: Rousselot and Chomienne provide a brief discussion on differentiationtherapy using retinoids, myeloid factors, and butyric acid, while Nanakorn andcoauthors cover the potential role of gene therapy as well as differentvectors/delivery systems and their potential use in chemoprotection,sensitization, immunoenhancement, and drug discovery. Mendelsohn briefly reviewsthe rationale for epidermal growth factor receptor-targeted therapy. Hamiltonand Piccart offer the most comprehensive of all chapters in this volume,covering novel strategies in breast cancer treatment, including hormonaltherapies and the potential manipulation of growth factor receptor, cellcycle/apoptosis, and angiogenesis pathways. Laing et al review the coordinateexpression of drug-resistance genes.

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

Finally, Part VII features discussions on the multidisciplinarymanagement of a variety of diseases: Amadori et al present a useful primer onthe management of neuroendocrine tumors; Diaz-Rubio and colleagues discusschemotherapy regimens in gastric cancer; and Taguchi reviews the Japaneseexperience in this disease. Eschwege and Lusinchi review current and ongoingquestions in the combined-modality treatment of anal canal cancer, Raghavanreviews chemotherapy options in advanced bladder cancer, and Shapiro offers ashort, well-written summary of the multimodality treatment of gliomas.

There are several collections of review articles that add littleto the existing plethora of published information. This book, edited byHortobagyi and Khayat, belongs to the small group of publications that havesucceeded in their goal of providing "useful information for our reader’sclinical activities, and food for thought in their research endeavors."

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