Cancer Pain Assessment, Diagnosis and Management

Reviewed by:


Dermot R. Fitzgibbon and John D. Loeser
Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2010)
378 pages
RRP: US$149.00

This excellent reference book was written by Associate Professor Dermot Fitzgibbon and Professor Emeritus John Loeser, both very experienced practitioners in the field of cancer pain and based in the University of Washington, Seattle. Its timely printing coincided with the last year of the ‘Decade of Pain Control and Research’, as designated by the U.S. Congress.

I found it refreshing to read this text as it looks at pain in a very holistic manner, from generalised epidemiology through to the various tumour groups and pathophysiology, into the complex causes and manifestations of pain in the cancer patient group. This book looks into the psychological manifestations of pain and the diagnosis of cancer. It also covers the many painful side-effects of routine cancer treatments. Topics also include complimentary and alternative medicine and an overview of nanotechnology which may lead to significant advances in the delivery of controlled release implantable analgesia.

Individual aspects of each topic are easily identifiable and are clearly labelled. Tables are used extensively to summarise important points throughout the discussion. The graphics contribute to the text in a meaningful way and the tables, particularly those directly related to the many different types of analgesia, are clear and easy to interpret. Each chapter concludes with an extensive reference list. It has been written for the American market and as such all statistical data is American.

I believe that this text would be beneficial for doctors and advanced practice nurses who are working and studying in the cancer and palliative care fields. It provides in-depth discussion into the wide variety of causes of pain and treatment modalities, although at times the discussion is very complex, drilling down to the molecular structure level, and may leave the average clinician feeling overwhelmed. It may benefit those of us who are requiring in-depth knowledge and evidence for research and/or teaching.

Included in the appendices are some valuable assessment tools and examples other patient information/consent forms.

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