Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology (4th edition)


PA Pizzo and DG Poplack (eds)
Published by Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2002)
ISBN:  0-7817-2658-1.  1,628 pages plus index.
RRP:  A$605.00

For many years in the field of paediatric oncology there was a relative dearth of reference books compared with that available to our adult medical oncology colleagues. In the late 1980s the first edition of Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology was published and it quickly became the pre-eminent paediatric oncology resource text.  A multidisciplinary team approach has become standard practice for managing paediatric cancer patients and all those involved in this field could turn to this text for detailed information on the majority of disease processes that occur in this patient group.  Subsequent editions during the 1990s only served to enhance the reputation of this tome, though the third edition did suffer from several chapters only having minor ‘cosmetic’ changes to the text.

The eagerly awaited fourth edition however has had major changes to the organisation of both the general sections and chapters. The editors have made the inclusion of up-to-date data on the molecular biology of paediatric malignancies their primary stated goal for this edition. While new advances and discoveries will quickly overtake the information provided, the editors and the contributing authors have succeeded in summarising the explosion in genomic knowledge of paediatric malignancies that has occurred over the past five to 10 years.  In particular the basic issues section provides a solid foundation of understanding of core aspects of childhood cancer.

The majority of contributing authors are North American in origin, but the individual disease chapters have in-depth discussions reflecting the global experience of previous treatment protocols. There are still idiosyncrasies that are simply reflections of differences in approach to particular problems.  For example, in the discussion on the management of tumour lysis syndrome, the use of urate oxidase is only briefly mentioned. However, these instances are few, and at worst serve as instigators for debate and consideration.

As in previous editions, the editors have retained the sections and chapters on supportive care, late effects, clinical trials, and psychosocial issues.  This reflects the fundamental philosophy of the multidisciplinary team approach to paediatric cancer. It is no longer a question of simply surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  The focus on other inter-related issues has contributed to improving both the quantity and quality of life of our patients.  The emphasis on clinical trials throughout the text serves as a timely reminder as to the import of further collaborative work (including multinational studies) to the advancement of our knowledge and understanding.

This text has therefore maintained its status as the most significant single resource in paediatric oncology.  There will be criticisms that it is now too large (58 chapters with 1,692 pages) – but to curtail some of the discussions would seriously impact on its ability to provide an overall picture of where we are (and probably just as important – how we got there) with the various diseases. This is a text that should be held in every paediatric oncology unit. It may rarely be read cover to cover but its pages will be flicked through on a daily basis.

T Hassall
Department of Haematology/Oncology
Royal Children’s Hospital
Brisbane, QLD

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