Reviewer: Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001
Looking for information on melanoma? This is a comprehensive "handbook" of sorts, covering prevention, diagnosis, treatment, psychological aspects of the diagnosis, future challenges and public health initiatives. The book is concise and easy to read, with minimal medical jargon (and a glossary at the end, if needed), so it is not an in-depth report in any area, but a great resource to gain a good understanding of this disease.
The author, Catherine Poole, had her own bout with melanoma , and she starts the book with her story, as well as that of two other people. She includes anecdotes from these three cases throughout the book, reminding the reader that this is more than just facts and data, but a very personal battle. Catherine utilizes the expertise of DuPont Guerry, MD, her physician, as well as that of other experts in the field, to present the current understanding of this disease.
As a melanoma survivor myself, I have great issue with the tanning industry, so I was glad to see Catherine present the real facts about the danger of tanning beds. Many people believe the use of tanning beds is a way to prevent sunburn, but this is simply not true. One expert states "it's like saying you should smoke to prevent lung cancer". Unfortunately, our society sees a tan as "healthy" and until we change that mindset, the cases of melanoma will continue to rise. It is currently the most common cancer in women ages 20-29, an age when many think they are not susceptible to cancer of any sort.
This book can be recommended to just about anyone, it is not only meant for people with a diagnosis of melanoma. Catherine's goal is to educate people about the risks of sun exposure and the importance of knowing your skin, checking it and following through when something looks different. She hopes to teach information that will save lives. Not every case can be so lucky, but the large majority of melanomas can be detected early and cured or prevented all together with an ounce of prevention and a spoonful of early detection.