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Book and Media Reviews
June 8, 2011

Cancer Genetics

JAMA. 2011;305(22):2353. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.794

Cancer Genetics, edited by Boris Pasche, is volume 155 in the popular Springer Cancer Treatment and Research series (Steven T. Rosen, series editor). At first glance, the broad title and topic would suggest a veritable tome of several volumes and thousands of pages. Instead, this is a slim, handy book with 5 chapters of 112 pages, including the index.

Close inspection reveals that this is not the typical cancer genetics textbook, which would correctly focus on the high-penetrance mendelian genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, BRCA1 and BRCA2, and with Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer syndrome), chiefly MLH1 and MSH2. Traditionalists expecting the usual might find themselves feeling uncomfortable—but astute readers will notice that Cancer Genetics does address the genetics of the most common adult and childhood malignancies: breast cancer, colon cancer, and neuroblastoma. Such readers also will recognize that while the clinically relevant mendelian genes associated with cancer predisposition are briefly summarized in each chapter, they are offered as a “given,” a platform to leap from. After all, other cancer genetics textbooks ably focus on mendelian heritable cancer syndromes and well-documented clinical applicability. This book deals with the here and now: from the low-penetrance variations associated with common cancers such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with breast cancers (in chapter 2) to the very current information on the newest and most exciting advances in neuroblastoma genetics (chapter 4) and transforming growth factor β in both heritable and sporadic colorectal cancers (chapter 5).