P.A. Pizzo, D.G. Poplack (eds). Fourth edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia/Baltimore/New York/London/Buenos Aires/ Hong Kong/Sydney/Tokyo, 2001, 1712 pp, $245.00, £181.00, US$239.00

Over the past four decades, the outcomes of treatment approaches to cancer in children have improved dramatically. This remarkable achievement is the result of collaborative efforts in clinical investigation and basic research. Such success, and the goal of curing all children with cancer, have led to recognition of the need to reduce long-term sequelae and improve quality of life during and after therapy. The ultimate success of current and future therapeutic approaches for paediatric cancer is intrinsically dependent on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying tumour and host factors; this will allow better patient risk-assessment, the development of specific targeted therapies and ultimately strategies for prevention. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology meets all the challenges of bringing the knowledge of traditional clinical paediatric oncology together with the information and technologies that are likely to change our approach to childhood cancer.

The impact of ‘new biology’ and the need to provide basic knowledge to cope with the application of functional genomics, proteomics and molecular pharmacology in the approach to cancer in children have resulted in the expansion of the molecular and genetics sections of the book. In addition to updates on the diagnosis and treatment of the different malignancies, the fourth edition provides a comprehensive in-depth discussion of the basic principles and clinical management of supportive care. It is also worth mentioning the great attention given to several issues (emotional, educational, financial, social) that are considered beyond the scope of a medical textbook, but are essential to meet the needs of a child with cancer at diagnosis, during treatment and after cessation of therapy. Finally, of note is the examination of paediatric oncology in countries with limited resources, to inform the reader of the chastening reality that the cure rates enjoyed in the industrialised countries are not being experienced by the vast majority of children with cancer.

Many (if not all!) colleagues involved in the care of children with cancer await the publication of a new edition of Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology with expectation. It provides a comprehensive and critical assessment of the different topics in paediatric oncology. As in the previous editions, it wins the day by its careful combination of novelty and updates, the quality of both aspects being assured by the extraordinary panel of 160 contributing authors. Thanks to the Editors for their commitment to excellence for the readers, children and families they serve.

A. Biondi

Milan, Italy