Cancer Precursors, Epidemiology, Detection and Prevention

Reviewed by:


E Franco et al (eds)
Published by Springer (2002)
ISBN: 0-387-95188-1. 410 pages plus index.
RRP: US$89.00

Over the last few years it has become apparent that molecular changes are evident in the earliest pre-neoplastic lesions, and indeed in some ostensibly normal cells. These findings have prompted studies on the precursor lesions of cancer, as it has been suggested that accurate identification of these lesions will translate into effective chemotherapeutic and other prevention strategies. This first edition text presents epidemiological data on the importance of precursor lesions at all the major anatomical sites. The text is divided into five sections. The first provides very basic information on biological markers of carcinogenesis and the pathological terminology used to describe neoplasms. Section two deals with methodological issues related to sample collection and interpretation of data. In my opinion, these sections of the book are of limited value as they present a superficial account of the topic and contain information that would certainly be well known to individuals working in the medical or allied health fields.

The strongest and most interesting section of the book is part three, which deals with precursor lesions at each of the important anatomical sites. It was immediately apparent that there was a great deal of variability in the focus of each of these chapters. Some authors focused entirely on the epidemiological aspects of the disease (for example the colon and rectum), while others (endometrial chapter), incorporated an analysis of the latest controversy surrounding the pathological classification of relevant precursor lesions. The most interesting chapters were those that sought to integrate the epidemiology, pathology and molecular biology of the disease (for example the bladder chapter). Unfortunately, there were few chapters that presented such an analysis. Sections four and five discuss chemoprevention, screening and the policy recommendations of various agencies.

Overall, I found this book made interesting reading and certainly some chapters would serve as an excellent reference text. Unfortunately, other chapters were quite brief and adopted a less comprehensive approach to their topic. It is likely that future editions of this book will correct some of these deficiencies and improve its value as a comprehensive reference text.

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