Gastrointestinal Oncology

Reviewed by:


J L Abbruzzese, D B Evans, C G Willett,
C Fenoglio-Preiser  (eds)
Published by Oxford University Press (2004)
ISBN:  0-1951-3372-2.  892 pages plus index.
RRP:  A$390.00


This is one of the most comprehensive textbooks I have read on the subject of gastrointestinal oncology. It comes at a time when there have been some significant improvements in outcomes for patients with cancer of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts. The 74 chapters were contributed by 131 authors from the United States and edited by four well-respected experts in the fields of medical, surgical, radiation and pathological oncology. 

Gastrointestinal Oncology begins with a section covering oncological principles common to all gastrointestinal cancers. This includes epidemiology, prevention and screening, inheritance, developmental biology of the GI tract, patho-biology, surgery, radiation oncology, chemotherapy, vaccines and gene therapies. The section finishes with the newer promising modalities of angiogeneic and antimetastatic targets.

The main section provides a detailed examination of each anatomical tumour group in terms of its epidemiology, pathogenesis, pathology, natural history, diagnostic and staging investigations. I was impressed by the attention given to current knowledge of the molecular events associated with the development of specific cancers. Management of potentially resectable disease is discussed in separate chapters. The discussion of adjuvant therapy is concise and up-to-date, listing the results of the sentinel studies. Locally advanced and non-resectable metastatic disease, which unfortunately is still a frequent mode of presentation, are given equal and appropriate attention. Lymphoma and sarcoma of the GI tract are dealt with in separate chapters.

The final section is rather unique in a textbook of this type in that it is entirely devoted to palliative care. It covers the important aspects of nutritional support, management of obstruction and pain control.
Overall, the text is evenly balanced, written in concise language and designed to give the reader an in-depth knowledge of their chosen area. In this sense, it is a highly recommended resource for specialists and trainees in surgical, medical and radiation oncology, and would be of interest to GI radiologists, gastroenterologists and palliative care physicians. It would be an ideal purchase for members of a multidisciplinary gastrointestinal cancer group, where clinicians need to have a sound understanding of the scope and limitations of treatment modalities outside of their particular area of expertise.

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