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Cancer neurology in clinical practice
  1. J Rees

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    Edited by D Schiff and P Y Wen (Pp 650 US$175.00). The Humana Press, New Jersey, 2002 650. ISBN 0-89603-922-6

    This is another welcome addition to the expanding number of neuro-oncology textbooks that have exploded onto the market in the past few years. It has been edited by two alumni of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and 24 of the 50 authors received their neuro-oncological training at Sloan Kettering, so they are well placed to address the problems of neurological complications of systemic cancer.

    This book is a reference text and is aimed at providing clinicians from various backgrounds with a core text to help them diagnose and manage neurological complications of cancer. There are 31 chapters written on 650 pages and the editors have subdivided the book into seven parts, starting with an overview of the prevalence and impact of neurological disease in cancer. The subsequent chapters cover neurological symptoms, particularly headache, confusion and cancer pain, direct and indirect complications of cancer, complications of cancer therapy, diagnostic studies (really a single chapter on imaging), and then complications of specific malignancies. This last part considers all the different cancers, including paediatric cancers but not primary brain tumours. Because of the general adage that “anything can happen in cancer”, there is considerable repetition but this does not really detract from the book, and indeed the comprehensive approach means that there is less need for cross referencing.

    I found the book eminently readable, well illustrated, and informative (for example, I had never previously come across the rapidly fatal encephalopathy seen in patients after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation called idiopathic hyperammonaemia). I also tried it out in the wards when I was asked to see a patient with a suspected trigeminal neuroma who turned out to have a metastasis from a previous breast cancer ten years ago. Sure enough, the book noted in the section on Breast Cancer under Skull and Skull Base Metastasis that “cranial nerves V and VII are involved most frequently”.

    It is as up to date as a textbook can be, devoting two pages to the thorny subject of radiosurgery for brain metastases and it even cites unpublished data on a recent RTOG trial, only available on the web. I would therefore recommend this book to anyone who deals with oncology patients and particularly to neurologists working in big cancer centres. The information is accessible, current, and well indexed.

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