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The title “Handbook” belies the size and scope of this text on gynaecological cancer that, despite being a paperback, weighs in at over three - quarters of a kilogram and extends to 450 pages. The range of chapters is extensive, covering basic sciences such as statistics and pharmacology, through modality-oriented chapters, to chapters on the management of site-specific tumours. One expects American gynaecological cancer textbooks to include breast cancer and, indeed, this is no exception. However, it is surprising to find a chapter on colorectal cancer, although this is by no means inappropriate given the frequent difficulties in differential diagnosis between advanced gynaecological and colorectal tumours. The individual chapters are by experts in the field and are well laid out with short, clear paragraphs and helpful tables. References are not included although texts for further reading are suggested. Algorithms are presented for the management of common cancers and the treatments proposed are generally applicable in the U.K. There are some helpful diagrams, although that for a radical vulvectomy represents a surgical technique that went out of favour in the U.K 10-20 years ago. This does, perhaps echo the American predisposition to radical surgery as primary therapy. In addition, there is an emphasis on chemotherapy, both generally and in the site-specific chapters, and radiotherapy is not represented to the same extent. There are no diagrams of radiotherapy volumes, field arrangements or brachytherapy applications. The amount of detail on radiotherapy is very variable between chapters - that in the endometrial chapter is helpful whilst there is little detail in the cervical chapter and reference back to the generic radiotherapy chapter is needed. This book is intended for trainees in gynaecological, medical and radiation oncology and as a consequence, this wide range of chapters is provided to allow trainees some basic infomation about specialities other than their own. It achieves this admirably. For established professionals in the speciality this book is probably too general to be of great value although it may serve as a quick reference book in other specialities.
At $29.95, this book is certainly value for money, within the reach of most residents and competitive with other handbooks that try to achieve the same goal. However, clinical oncology residents must not see it as providing all that is needed for the radiotherapeutic management of gynaecological cancer.