Reviewed by:


K Pantel (ed)
Published by Kluwer (2003)
ISBN:  1-4020-1155-5.  184 pages plus index
RRP:  US$115.00


This is a small book but definitely not light reading. It is comprised of nine freestanding chapters, written by 20 collaborators, predominantly from Germany and the USA, covering selected aspects of micrometastatic malignant disease.

There is a general introductory chapter addressing definitions, basic methodologies and underlying technical difficulties leading to erroneous experimental results. The remaining eight chapters address very specific experimental, laboratory diagnostic or clinical aspects of micrometastatic disease as it relates to head and neck, breast, prostate, lung (non-small cell), oesophageal, colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer and melanoma.

Various techniques are explored with each cancer type, such as immunohistochemistry, nucleic acid-based approaches (predominantly PCR), harvesting and concentrating cells from peripheral blood or bone marrow, as well as more exotic techniques including so-called “plaque hybridisation assay”, which the author concedes is very robust, but far too labour- intensive to be used in general diagnostic laboratories.

The book is excellently referenced but, understandably, only sparsely illustrated. The presentation is easily manageable and some considerable effort has been taken to standardise the format of otherwise unconnected chapters. It is clearly intended for the research scientist or post-doctoral fellow whose specific field of interest is laboratory-based research and will be of relatively little practical value to the diagnostic pathologist or medical oncologist.

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