Textbook of Neuro-oncology


MS Berger and MD Prados
Published by Elsevier Saunders (2005)
ISBN:  0-7216-8148-4    829 pages plus references


The sub-specialty of neuro-oncology is slowly raising its profile. Changes in the natural history of other cancer types has resulted in increasing clinical dilemmas associated with brain metastases and the appearance of temozolomide for high-grade gliomas has created renewed interest in adjuvant and palliative therapies.

As a consequence, a number of encyclopaedic textbooks have appeared including this new volume from Mitchell Burger and Mike Prados. The book is divided into essential principals, ranging from basic science, diagnosis and treatment principals through to detailed chapters on the management of specific tumours. As with many textbooks there is a serious problem with content, consistency and structure.  

The chapters vary in their detail and value. For example, the chapter on primary cerebral lymphoma is disappointing in its discussion of chemotherapy and the relative controversies regarding current treatment strategies. Similarly, it is difficult to understand how the chapter on glioblastoma warrants six pages whereas that of anaplastic astrocytoma required 21 pages and nine authors.   

Frankly, it irritates me that many chapters were multi-authored with five or six authors for five page chapters. Further, I don’t understand why the section on brain metastases requires a chapter for each individual tumour type given the fact that treatment principals are very similar and the chapters could have been incorporated into a broad discussion. On the other hand there are some excellent chapters on uncommon tumour types that are useful for the practising oncologist seeking information on rare pathology.

There is an extensive section of paediatric neuro-oncology that unfortunately duplicates much of the information in the earlier chapters for similar diseases. Thus, for example the two chapters on adult and paediatric medulloblastoma can be almost super imposed. It is extraordinary that the medulloblastoma chapter in the paediatric section provides one paragraph on chemotherapy.

Overall, this is a disappointing textbook in terms of content, structure and style. There are elements within it that may be helpful for the practising neuro-oncologist but I would not recommend it ahead of other sources of information.

Mark Rosenthal
Cancer Trials Australia, Victoria

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