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Diagnosing Cancer in Primary Care.
  1. K S SHER
  1. Family and Hospital Practitioner
  2. Leicester University, UK

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    Diagnosing Cancer in Primary Care. Nicholas Summerton. (Pp 171; £18.95 paperback.) Radcliffe Medical Press, 1999. ISBN 1-85775-307-0.

    This book is a concise description of epidemiological data, cancer genetics, clinical presentation, investigations, management, and prognosis of relatively common cancers that can present as diagnostic problems in general practice. The author highlights diagnostic problems in primary care and provides some important clues in clinical presentations to avoid missing and delaying the diagnosis. There is ample emphasis on taking prompt and appropriate action after having suspected or diagnosed cancers to improve the outcome.

    The chapter on facts and figures on common cancers is very useful. It gives a quick overview of incidence and prevalence of most cancers. The author has provided concise information on cancer genetics and emphasised the importance of family history, genetic testing, and counselling in the diagnosis and management of cancer. Oncogenes are mostly abbreviated and I wish there were some description to understand these better.

    I found the chapter on colorectal cancer very comprehensive. The chapters on lung and breast cancer are brief but salient features are marked with bullets. Again there are ample clinical clues to the diagnosis of these cancers. There is a flow chart on the guidelines of referral of a breast lump. Similarly chapters on prostate, bladder, testicular and kidney, brain, skin, and haematological cancers are concise but informative. The statements made in the book on various aspects of these cancers are evidence-based and reliable. At the end of each chapter there are enough references for further reading. The book contains up to date facts and is a good read. The book is available in both hardback and paperback.

    The only deficiency I could find in this book is the lack of clinical guidelines in the form of flow charts, which would have been invaluable for a busy primary care physician. On the whole I recommend this book as a quick reference and an aid to general practitioners and other primary care professionals in the diagnosis and management of common cancers in primary care.

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