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Ovarian Cancer Your Guide to Taking Control

Reviewer: Ryan P. Smith. MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Ovarian Cancer Your Guide to Taking Control Authors: Kristine Conner and Lauren Langford
Publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 0-596-50016-5

OncoLink Rating: 3 Stars

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Though much less common than other types of malignancies, ovarian cancer is the largest cause of death among gynecologic malignancies. The sole reason behind this is the relative difficulty in recognizing the subtle signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and the subsequent propensity of it to spread prior to diagnosis. For this reason, education is the key in assisting women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer: Your Guide to Taking Control is an exceptional resource in this area. Kristine Conner is a writer specializing in topics related to medicine and education, contributing many articles and education materials in accessible terms for patients. Lauren Dieguez Langford was a long-time, very active patient advocate for women with breast and ovarian cancer who became even more active in the ovarian cancer community after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer herself. She used her experiences to contribute much of the book prior to succumbing to her disease. Teamed together, with combined areas of expertise, they have compiled an extremely complete guide to every aspect of ovarian cancer.

Toward the beginning of the book, there is a chapter entitled "An Ovarian Cancer Primer", which serves as just that: an accurate and complete-but not overwhelming-description of all aspects of how ovarian cancer behaves. However, the book does not stop there. It goes on with detailed descriptions of not only medical procedures such as surgery and chemotherapy, but also other, equally important facets of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, such as side effects, coping strategies, and resources for support groups. The authors obviously have more than a fair knowledge of ovarian cancer, as they devote an entire chapter to finding a gynecologic oncologist, which is perhaps the most important single step in being treated. In addition, there is a complete chapter on the aspects and function of clinical trials, usually a black box for most patients. The chapter introduces clinical trials, describes the types of trials, and gives detailed information regarding myths about trials, their pros and cons, and resources to determine if a patient would qualify for trials. There is even a chapter on dealing with employment and insurance issues, which most healthcare professionals are ignorant about or ignore altogether. The authors recognize that this is an important section to include, as it often affects patients' lives more than the majority of other aspects of the disease. Other chapters include information on follow-up standards, coping processes, and tastefully deals with end of life issues.

Ovarian Cancer: Your Guide to Taking Control is an exceptional book. It is complete in every aspect. It relays information in an easy to read fashion, but includes all information that should be communicated. It mixes in stories from actual patients with apropos stories that supplement the text. These are not simple anectdotes, but are well done and further elucidate the points the authors wish to convey. This will serve as a reminder to women reading the book that they are not alone in fighting this disease. We highly recommend Ovarian Cancer: Your Guide to Taking Control.