Head and Neck Cancer: Emerging Perspectives


J Ensley et al
Published by Academic Press (2003)
ISBN: 0-1223-9990-0. 591 pages plus index.
RRP: A$585.73


As an up-to-date reference text designed for clinicians and researchers in the field, this book presents North American evidence-based expert opinion on the management of head and neck cancers. It summarises pathogenesis, epidemiology, investigation and treatment as well as the current molecular knowledge and some of the more promising scientific research.

Perhaps more than any other cancer, the treatment of head and neck cancer involves a team approach. John Ensley of Detroit, Michigan and his co-editors have collaborated with a pre-eminent team of North American surgeons, radiation and chemotherapy oncologists, pathologists, epidemiologists and scientists to write this reference text.

The book is divided into five parts. A short introduction includes precancerous lesions and staging, and is suitable for oncologists or surgeons. The detailed second part covers the genetic, molecular and cellular pathogenesis of head and neck cancer. The up-to-date summaries of scientific results would more than suffice as reference for surgeons or oncologists and would be useful background reading for scientists proposing research in this field.

A substantial third part discusses the North American epidemiology as well as ongoing trials into head and neck cancer prevention including a chapter on statistical analysis and molecular detection. This is a detailed discussion about current developments that may form the basis of future treatments.

As a clinician I feel the fourth part is the highlight. In under 200 pages, some of the foremost experts in North American surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, discuss their treatment of common head and neck cancers. The less common tumours such as parotid and sinonasal tumours are omitted with more detailed discussion on difficult management problems in the more common tumours, such as a chapter on management of the carotid artery.

My one criticism of the treatment section is the under-representation of non-North American literature in the references. Like many areas of medicine, North American treatment of head and neck cancer is of a high standard but may underplay important developments outside North America. The current Australian head and neck cancer management, for instance, has been revolutionised by Steiner and others in Germany who have used laser instead of chemoradiotherapy for voice preservation in laryngeal tumours. This is barely mentioned in the text.

Finally, the fifth part outlines the more promising developments in head and neck cancer research including gene therapy, immunology and molecular assessment of surgical margins.

I would recommend this text to libraries as a reference for researchers, surgeons and oncologists involved in head and neck cancer. It is well-written, very up-to-date and well-researched. It would help inform each member of the treating team about the others’ field. Its major drawback is that North American practice is not exactly Australian practice but we are certainly very similar and have much to learn from one another.

T Iseli
Dept of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Monash Medical Centre, VIC

Be the first to know when a new issue is online. Subscribe today.