THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY CANCER BOOK, edited by Arthur I. Holleb (Doubleday: $22.50; 627 pp. with 100 black-and-white photographs). In publishing this 30-author book, the American Cancer Society has performed a real service for the public. The "Cancer Book" is a comprehensive work giving realistic, straightforward information about cancer and its treatments; it enables the reader to develop an in-depth understanding of virtually all important aspects of this disease. Particularly well covered are the issues of prevention, the team approach to its treatment, and the common psychological aspects and problems encountered in living with cancer. Modern concepts of treatment are well outlined, as is rehabilitation after treatment, a subject often overlooked.
As with most multi-authored texts, there was some redundancy that could have been streamlined, and there was inconsistency in level of readership required for understanding. A more thorough discussion of the concept and uses of "adjuvant" therapy was needed. Unorthodox treatments are discussed in a way to provide the reader the tools with which to evaluate them, but this reviewer would have liked some mention of the responsibility of the medical profession in driving patients to them. Overall, however, the "Cancer Book" provides, in as reassuring a way as possible, the kind of thorough information about cancer in general and each cancer specifically, that patients might need to understand their problem and participate fully in its management.