Atlas of Cancer Surgery

Reviewed by:


N Blook et al (Eds)
Published by A WB Saunders (2000)
ISBN: 0-7216-6199-8. 488 pages plus index.
RRP: A$355.30

To cover the technical aspects of cancer surgery, in atlas form, in one book is a challenge. In considering this book for the Australian scene one needs to look at the group to whom it will be aimed. In the USA and some areas of Europe there are surgeons who will be involved in the care of patients with many different types of cancer involving such diverse sites such as the chest and the whole abdomen. In Australia where the specialisation tends to be into different cancer sites, the broad nature of this book loses its relevance to the experienced surgeon. I think the authors have tried to cover too many different operations across too many specialities.

The illustrations are outstanding. The separate operations that are represented carry a different amount of technical written detail. In the preface, the statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” is used as justification for brevity in the legends. This is fine for the experienced surgeon but for the less experienced surgeon, trainee or student some of the legends were too brief, eg thyroidectomy and neck dissection. It is unfortunate that the opportunity to add “pearls of wisdom” to the excellent illustrations was not used by the authors.

In some of the sections there are steps in some of the illustrated procedures that I would not consider routine approaches. At the end of a number of sections operative surgery case reports are used as illustrations. These tended to be technically challenging cases. Although interesting I am not sure of the value as the preceding standard operative illustrations were usually not detailed enough with technical descriptions to allow one the insight to the intricacies of the procedure used as an illustrative case report.

Overall the book aims to cover too much. The Australian surgeon with a subspecialty interest is not going to buy this book because the descriptions in their area of interest is too brief, only offering an overview of the operations used. The Australian general surgeon will not gain enough detailed information about procedures to use this as a reference for those procedures they may perform intermittently.

For the reasons outlined above it is difficult to recommend this book to individual surgeons as a useful operative surgery reference ahead of the many other books available that cover different specialties in more depth. For the surgical trainee interested in cancer this book would be a useful reference to use for discussions with their subspecialty mentors because the illustrations are very good. For centres specialising in cancer it may be a useful text for the library as a surgical technique reference for trainees, students, non surgeon cancer specialists and patients because it does cover so much in a single text.

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