Cutaneous Melanoma, Fifth Edition
Edited by Charles M. Balch, Alan N. Houghton, Arthur J. Sober, Seng-jaw Soong, Michael B. Atkins, and John F. Thompson. Quality Medical Publishing Inc., St. Louis, Mo. 2009. Price: $250.
The fifth edition of Cutaneous Melanoma updates what is the definitive textbook on the disease. It exhaustively covers all aspects of melanoma, including the epidemiology, pathology, staging, and treatment. It is divided into seven major sections and contains 44 chapters written by the world's experts in the field. The clean format facilitates its use as a reference guide. It is oriented to all health care providers, with special interests to surgeons, dermatologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists who regularly treat the disease. The book is unique in its robust inclusion of research data that have guided management of this disease. This is an advantage for those seeking comprehensive knowledge on certain aspects of melanoma. It is a disadvantage, however, for the busy clinician seeking a quick reference guide to a particular treatment recommendation.
The sections on the management of localized melanoma and regional metastases are especially important to the practicing plastic surgeon. The rationale for surgical excision margins is clearly outlined by review of the numerous randomized trials that have been conducted. The chapter on closure of melanoma excision defects is a good review of the reconstructive options known to most plastic surgeons. The use of sentinel lymph node biopsy in the management of localized melanoma is discussed in several chapters. Plastic surgeons are often confronted with the question of who is a candidate for the procedure. Because of the exhaustive nature of the book, the answer to the question requires a good bit of reading. Analysis of the randomized trial comparing sentinel lymph biopsy versus nodal basin observation is especially pertinent to all surgeons treating the disease.
In summary, Dr. Charles Balch and his fellow editors have published the premier textbook on cutaneous melanoma. It truly has “something for everyone” treating what can be a devastating cancer. It belongs on the shelves of all plastic surgeons who regularly treat the disease.
Grant W. Carlson, M.D.
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