The Cancer Dictionary

James Metz, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

The Cancer Dictionary front cover Author: Roberta Altman and Michael J. Sarg, MD
Publisher: Checkmark Books
ISBN: 0-8160-3954-2

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As medical technology moves forward, more and more medical terms are added to the health care provider's vocabulary. Some of these terms become integrated into the language of the layperson through exposure in the mass media. However, many remain in the realm of the health care provider. Medical jargon can be confusing. Even when physicians and nurses explain the terms fully, patients forget the definitions because of the enormous amount of information they are told at one of the most stressful points in a persons life.

Roberta Altman is an author of multiple books and a cancer survivor. She has also worked for the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service and received the American Cancer Society's Courage Award. Michael J. Sarg, MD is associate chief of medical oncology at St. Vincent's Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. The two authors have teamed to create a unique resource that will benefit many cancer patients.

The Cancer Dictionary was written to provide clear and concise information to cancer patients and their families. It contains over 2,500 definitions of words that cancer patients may hear during their treatments. The authors state "The Cancer Dictionary is meant to provide the cancer patient and general public with easy access to areas of information that are often hard to locate, or when found are hard to understand. In writing it our goal was twofold: to include every word that the average person might come across in the course of his or her illness; and to define each word in layperson's language, so that it would be understandable to the person without a medical background while at the same time providing enough information to be truly helpful."

This user-friendly resource is arranged similar to a dictionary with all terms placed in alphabetical order. Because so many terms in cancer go by multiple names, everything is cross-referenced. Pronunciations are included for any unfamiliar terms. Diagrams are also included when appropriate. The book also contains appendices with national organizations for cancer and AIDS, comprehensive and clinical cancer centers by state, a subject index, and extensive bibliography.

This resource is the most extensive cancer dictionary available that is written for the patient and caregiver. It is well organized, easy to understand, and will be an important addition to any cancer patients library. It is highly recommended by OncoLink.

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