Lisa M. DeAngelis, MD and Jerome B. Posner, MD.
Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2009.
ISBN 978-0-19-536674-7, $125.00.
Scope: This is the 2nd edition of a text that appeared in its 1st edition in 1995. It is part of the venerable Contemporary Neurology Series that began more than 50 years ago with The Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma, authored by Fred Plum, MD, and Jerome Posner, MD, who is also the second author of this book.
This edition and the original edition are meant to complement texts on primary brain and spinal cord tumors by dwelling on parenchymal, leptomeningeal, and dural metastases, primary tumors of the cranial and spinal nerves, and nonmetastatic effects such as intracranial and spinal infarction and hemorrhage, infection, metabolic, nutritional, and paraneoplastic disturbances, as well as side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. The authors, who are based at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, draw on the published literature and on their extensive experience as neuro-oncologists.
Running to well over 600 pages, this edition is nearly twice as thick as the original. The new material comes mostly from the reporting of new modes of therapy, as well as from an attempt to explain the pathophysiology of metastatic and nonmetastatic manifestations.
Strengths: The authors are academic giants who have seen more cases, published more studies, and trained more neuro-oncologists than anyone else in the world. Thus, the information they impart is as reliable as you will find anywhere-and very useful. For example, you will find out the comparative value of MRI and spinal fluid analysis in the detection of leptomeningeal cancer. You will learn which corticosteroid side effects to expect, how often, why, and what to do about them. The sections on radiation and chemotherapeutic complications are definitive. Not surprisingly, the chapter on paraneoplastic manifestations is a gem, as the authors are originators in this field.
The text is well-written and nicely edited. These features are due in part to the fact that Oxford University Press, with its devotion to high publishing standards, has taken over the Contemporary Neurology Series. The tables and illustrations are aptly chosen and gracefully spaced to highlight and break up the monotony of text. The color figures are a welcome addition.
Weaknesses: The subject matter is somber. There is no good news for the patient. The truth is that in the 13 years since the first edition has appeared, very little therapeutic progress has been made. Much of this material is available in separate sources, some of it is conveniently online.
Recommended Audience: Although the text is aimed at neurologists and neuro-oncologic nurses, anyone who deals with cancer will find this a valuable resource.
Critical Appraisal: For information about metastatic brain and spinal cancer and its effects, there is no better source. Given the changing habits of information-seeking by physicians, who are relying more and more to online sources for quick tips, one wonders how much traffic this book will get. It is heavy in weight and tone and cannot be easily updated. Yet it is a beautiful rendering of the incomparable clinical experience and academic prowess of two of the most learned specialists in the field. Institutional libraries and seasoned neurologists know the quality of the Contemporary Neurology Series. They will-and should-go for it.
Jonathan D. Trobe, MD
Departments of Neurology and Ophthalmology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan