James Metz, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001
You or a family member has been diagnosed with cancer. You are starving for good information about cancer. So, you decide to go to the bookstore or shop online for "THE BOOK". The problem is you find there are a couple of shelves filled with books on the topic of cancer or pages of book titles on the Internet. The question then arises, "How Do I Pick the Right Book?" It can be confusing with hundreds of books about cancer for sale. Many of them sound good on the cover, but you should always wonder if they give reliable information.
First of all, there is probably no book out there that can be considered "THE BOOK" for everyone. Each person is looking for something different in a book. Some want basic facts, some want encouragement, some want to find a way of gaining control over their lives after a diagnosis of cancer.
Before looking for a book, ask you physician if they recommend any particular resources. Your physician has undoubtedly looked at a number of references and can recommend some reliable reading material. Support groups also are good places to learn about books.
OncoLink has a large and reliable book review section. All books are reviewed by physicians and other expert health care professionals. Only books that fulfill our strict criteria for excellence are recommended to our users. The book review section is divided by topic for easy use. Unfortunately, there are some books that give false or misleading information and a section has been created to warn OncoLink users about these books.
There are no books out there that address every type of cancer completely and effectively. Most people will want to buy two types of cancer books to get most of the information they will need. The first type of book that everyone should have is a general cancer reference book. These books offer an overview of cancer diagnosis and the variety of general treatments available. They explain the three major treatments for cancer including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. They also discuss supportive care and quality of life issues. Good overviews are easy to read, define medical jargon, and leave the reader feeling they understand the basic terms. It should also contain a reference list including Internet resources, organizations and support groups, and recommended books.
Next, you should look for a book that specifically addresses the type of cancer you are interested in learning the most about. This book should detail the diagnosis, staging, treatment, and follow-up for this particular cancer. It should detail all of the treatment options and side effects of therapy.
Starting with these two types of books will give you a good start on understanding the diagnosis and treatment of a cancer. There may be other books that interest you but these first two types of books will give you a strong foundation for more specific reading.