Modern Management of Cancer of the Rectum

Reviewed by:


R Audisio et al (eds)
Published by Springer (2001)
ISBN: 1-85233-287-5. 230 pages plus index.
RRP:  US$119.00

The three editors of this multi-author book are to be congratulated for their efforts. They have been able to produce a readable 17 chapter, 234 page text which largely covers the modern management of rectal cancer. Most chapters are written by acknowledged experts in their respective fields. Some of the authors include Bruce Minsky, who writes chapters on pre-operative and post-operative radiotherapy; Jeff Milson, who writes chapters on restorative procedures and laparoscopic rectal cancer surgery; David Schoetz and Patricia Roberts, who write on abdomino-perineal resection; Warren Enker, who writes on total mesorectal excision; Victor Fazio, who writes on surgery for rectal cancer; Heidi Nelson, who writes on surgery for locally recurrent rectal cancer; and Phillip Quirke, who writes on pathology and staging.

As is always the case in multi-authored books, there is overlap in many of the chapters. For example, some ground covered in chapter six on restorative procedures is re-visited in chapter eight on total mesorectal excision. Nonetheless, the somewhat different perspectives and opinions regarding details of surgical treatment are interesting.

Whilst the “standard” chapters on the various surgical approaches to rectal cancer and on adjuvant treatment are the cornerstones of the book, there are some excellent perspectives on this disease found in other chapters. The first chapter on the history of the treatment of rectal cancer is fascinating – starting with a long quote from John Arderne from 1376. A separate chapter on rare types of rectal cancer – including carcinoid tumours, lymphomas, melanomas, neuroendocrine tumours, vascular lesions and sarcomas is particularly useful to practising specialists. An outstanding chapter on quality of life and palliative care in rectal cancer patients is ahead of its time, and highlights the need for further work in this area.

As in all texts, very recent work cannot be included. For example, reference has not been made to the Dutch trial on total mesorectal excision with or without pre-operative radiotherapy. Important results of the most recent NSABP trial on post-operative adjuvant treatment also have not been referenced.

In all, this is a well-written book giving the views of many accomplished leaders and authors in this field. Doctors, whatever their speciality, who treat patients with rectal cancer will find the book interesting and informative. Perhaps most interesting are the chapters on fields outside one’s own specialty.

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