K Chao et al (eds)
Published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (2002)
ISBN: 0-7817-3222-0. 729 pages plus index.
This is described as a pocket manual for trainees in radiation oncology and claims to cover all cancer sites and tumour types. At 768 pages and over 1kg, it cannot really be described as suitable for the pocket but otherwise meets its objectives very well. Two of the editors are well known for the standard textbook, Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology, and the 110 contributors, mostly from the United States, include many distinguished names.
After some excellent general chapters covering the principles of radiation oncology, the individual chapters address specific disease sites. The book is presented in dot point form, with a large number of tables and diagrams. Many of these will be familiar from Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology. This format makes it easy for checking information and for revision purposes, but difficult to read in large amounts.
The illustrations are generally of good quality, although the four pages of colour pictures are not well reproduced and add little to the book. The planning films and CT scans with target volumes and dose distributions marked are particularly useful. Each chapter contains a short and useful reference list and the appendix lists some of the commonly used drugs and their doses. This is quite helpful, as they are listed by generic name with the American trade name in brackets. Some of the entries, such as Powdered Opium and Belladonna, are very traditional and make an interesting contrast with the high technology sections of the book.
Generally, I would recommend this for trainees who wish to have a reasonably priced and fairly brief summary of radiation oncology, presented in a way that makes it easy to find important information.
Inevitably, it is written in a dogmatic style and does not fully address some of the controversies and alternative treatment options. It is ideally suited to quick revision before a case presentation or to occupy a few spare minutes during the day. It would be useful for radiation oncologists who do not often treat a particular disease and wish to check on the details of treatment.