Dr. Carol Kornmehl has written a book that fills an important niche
that was previously missing in cancer patient education. There are
many resources available to those going through chemotherapy or
undergoing oncologic surgery. However, there is a paucity of
radiation therapy, which is a very common and essential portion of
multidisciplinary cancer treatment. Therefore, The Best News about
Radiation Therapy: How to Cope and Survive can be beneficial for
patients who have questions about their course of radiation.
The book concentrates on delivering information and dispelling myths
about radiation oncology; both of which are sorely needed. This is
done through the eyes of many actual patients who actually had
radiation for various cancers. This serves to identify with the
reader, likely making it apply more personally. Many aspects of
radiation therapy are covered, from simulation to treatment course to
toxicity to coping strategies. As virtually every aspect of a
radiation treatment course is dictated by the body site that is being
treated, it is impossible to subscribe general information that will
adequately cover everything. Hence, Dr. Kornmehl wisely addresses each
subject based on disease type and radiation field location. This is
extremely important and an effective method of dispersing information.
The field of radiation oncology and cancer care in general is very
technical. Therefore, the author may not be at fault for at times
talking above the level of understanding most patients may have.
However, to supplement this, she included a glossary of terms so that
it may be easier to follow. Other critiques are that some of the
figures and diagrams have terms not discussed in the text, which may
add to the confusion. Also, as the information is told through stories
of particular patients, there is often the tone that the patient's
treatment course is the only path that could have been taken, which is
obviously not the case. Again, Dr. Kornmehl attempts to dispel this by
often offering alternative treatments, possible toxicities, etc.
The full range of aspects of radiation therapy are discussed (with the
puzzling exception of CT simulation, which is becoming more and more
popular) from intraoperative radiation to brachytherapy, hyperthermia,
and stereotactic radiosurgery. This is a strength of the book.
However, the main strength continues to lie in the clever
site-specific approach and personal identification patients will have
upon reading the book. The "Frequently Asked Questions" section is
also excellent, again dispelling many of the myths about radiation
therapy. The Best News about Radiation Therapy: How to Cope and
Survive could therefore be very useful for patients undergoing