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Lung Cancer: Volume I: Molecular Pathology Methods and Reviews; Volume II: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Methods and Reviews FREE TO VIEW

Richard E. Crowell, MD, FCCP
Chest. 2004;126(6):2030-2031. doi:10.1378/chest.126.6.2030-a
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By Barbara Driscoll, PhD, ed. Clifton, NJ: Humana Press, 2003; Volume I: 566 pp; $149.50; Volume II: 780 pp; $149.50

Lung cancer is the most common lethal cancer in both men and women in the United States, and clinical and research interest in this disease has been steadily increasing over the last several years. As with many other diseases, advances in molecular laboratory approaches and a continuously expanding repertoire of molecular techniques have led to an explosion of information regarding the molecular basis of lung carcinogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. A common resource for the broad variety of these molecular approaches with regard to lung cancer research would be extremely useful for interested scientists.

The two-volume set edited by Barbara Driscoll, PhD, presented as part of the Methods in Molecular Medicine Series by Humana Press, is an able contender for such a resource. Volume I is an overview of a number of different assays and laboratory approaches to characterizing the molecular aberrations in lung cancer, while volume II is focused on molecular approaches to lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Volume I, entitled Molecular Pathology Methods and Reviews, is broadly divided into four parts. After a general introduction (part 1), part 2 reviews lung cancer pathologic classifications, and includes examples of prototypical molecular abnormalities and gene-environment interactions that have been described for this disease. However, the meat of the volume lies in part 3, which provides detailed descriptions for laboratory approaches that are broadly categorized into subgroups comprising the various biochemical and structural cellular processes in which molecular aberrations have been described in lung cancer. For example, the “Detection of Alterations in the Cell Cycle” section includes chapters on aberrations in the RB-p16 tumor suppressor gene pathway and the detection of hypermethylated p16 alleles in sputum. Each chapter contains a brief introduction of the proposed role of that particular molecular abnormality in lung carcinogenesis, which is followed by a detailed description of methodologies for individual assays. A welcome addition to these chapters is a set of “Notes,” in which each author presents technical insights and “helpful hints” that they think are important to the successful completion or analysis of these assays. Part 4 compiles a number of different animal models that currently are in use for studying agent-specific carcinogenesis and metastasis, and for testing interventions that are designed to alter lung cancer development and progression.

Volume II, entitled Diagnostic and Therapeutic Methods and Reviews, is focused on molecular approaches to lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. After another somewhat general review in part I (which could easily be combined with similar chapters in volume 1), part 2 includes several introductory reviews of specific topics in which a significant amount of molecular work has been performed, such as the excellent chapter discussing the potential clinical importance of p53 mutations in lung cancer patients. However, the majority of the effort is on discussions of novel laboratory assays that are being studied for their usefulness in lung cancer risk assessment, early detection, early diagnosis, and molecular staging and prognosis. Most of these chapters are interesting and useful, again incorporating a “Notes” section for completeness.

Part 3 of this volume is particularly interesting, focusing on molecular approaches to novel lung cancer therapies. This section begins with an excellent historical review of the surgical treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, although reviews of radiation (a standard palliative lung cancer therapy) and photodynamic therapy (which appears to be of more limited usefulness) include very little discussion of any studies using molecular markers for assessing therapeutic indications or responsiveness. However, the majority of part 3 is devoted to an interesting overview of lung cancer-specific targeted gene therapy including discussions of the advantages, pitfalls, and obstacles for the success of this therapy. Several chapters follow that describe the delivery methods used for gene therapy into the lungs. Chapters on antisense oligonucleotide gene therapy and immune therapy provide in-depth reports of interesting studies in these areas as well. A section on chemoprevention is not as extensive and could be significantly improved by a broader review of human studies as well as animal models.

In summary, this two-volume set largely meets the goals of the editor, as stated in the Preface: to provide a “… resource for both novice and experienced investigators attempting to diversify their technological base in research.” Although not relevant to the clinician, this set could be very useful to a physician scientist as a reference text for the laboratory study of lung cancer.




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