The Molecular Basis of Cancer, 2nd Edition

September 5, 2002

Edited by John Mendolsohn, MD, Peter M. Howley, MD, Mark A. Israel, MD, and Lance A. Liotta, MD, PhD, The Molecular Basis of Cancer is designed for students, researchers, and physicians in a variety of disciplines. It does not provide a detailed description of the clinical manifestations of human neoplasia. There is, instead, an extensive presentation of the scientific basis of cancer development and therapy. The book includes the contributions of 61 authors, virtually all of whom are recognized experts in their respective fields, from throughout the United States and Europe. The references are comprehensive and relatively current, given the lag time in going to press. The book will certainly benefit both basic scientists and clinicians alike.

Edited by John Mendolsohn, MD,Peter M. Howley, MD, Mark A. Israel, MD, and Lance A. Liotta, MD, PhD, The Molecular Basis of Cancer is designed for students, researchers, andphysicians in a variety of disciplines. It does not provide a detaileddescription of the clinical manifestations of human neoplasia. There is,instead, an extensive presentation of the scientific basis of cancer developmentand therapy. The book includes the contributions of 61 authors, virtually all ofwhom are recognized experts in their respective fields, from throughout theUnited States and Europe. The references are comprehensive and relativelycurrent, given the lag time in going to press. The book will certainly benefitboth basic scientists and clinicians alike.

The book is divided into four main sections: malignanttransformation, growth and spread of cancer, molecular pathogenesis of specificmalignancies, and molecular basis of cancer therapy. This orderly progressionfrom pathogenesis to therapy facilitates reading the text from cover to cover.It should be noted that each chapter could stand alone in its treatment of thesubject matter.

The first section, on malignant transformation, includes acomprehensive discussion of the genetic abnormalities present in cancer as wellas the associated perturbations of the cell cycle and apoptosis. Furthermore,there are superb chapters on viral carcinogenesis and the signal transductionpathway alterations present in the malignant cell. The chapters on two recentlydiscovered developmental processes involving the Hedgehog-patched and Wntsignaling pathways are highly informative and provide information crucial to theunderstanding of normal cellular processes that regulate cellular functioning.It has become apparent that as our understanding of these complicated eventsexpands, the complexities grow even more rapidly.

The next section, on the growth and spread of cancer,provides cutting-edge insight into the complex mechanisms that are required fortransformed cells to grow into tumor masses and obtain new blood supply as theyinvade surrounding tissue and finally metastasize. As new efforts are under wayto develop therapies aimed at interfering with angiogenesis and metastases, thissection will provide important insights into potential therapeutic applications.

The section dealing with the molecular pathogenesis ofspecific malignancies, although not as comprehensive as other sections, is stillan excellent source of information about the molecular biology of particularmalignancies. The extensively presented paradigms transcend specific tumor typesand provide for a more unified understanding of the malignant phenotype. Thechapters on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and coloncancer are particularly well written and superbly illustrated. The rapidadvances in defining molecular abnormalities of lymphomas and leukemias willenable more precise classification of these malignancies.

Finally, the section on the molecular basis of cancer therapywill be especially useful to clinicians and other professionals who managecancer patients. timely coverage of tumor vaccine strategies and gene therapy issorely needed. Such information provides a foundation on which to criticallyevaluate the plethora of novel therapies being introduced into the clinic withthe biotechnology revolution.

In general, the book is well edited and eminently readable.There is room for improvement in the quality of the illustrations in certainchapters. Overall, however, there is adequate use of graphics and illustrations,which help to clarify difficult concepts. The ability of this text to provideboth detailed and relevant descriptions of the molecular basis of cancer to bothclinicians and researchers is truly a remarkable feat.