Book review: The Complete Canadian Guide to Prostate Cancer

by Leah Jamnicky, RN, Robert Nam, MD.

The Complete Canadian guide to Prostate Cancer, By Leah Jamnicky, RN, Robert Nam, MD. John Wiley and Sons Canada, Ltd., 2008. ISBN 978-0-470-15767-1. Softcover, 256 pages. $24.95.

In a very readable and down-to-earth style, Ms Leah Jamnicky, a urology clinic coordinator at the University Health Network in Toronto, and Dr Robert Nam, a University of Toronto urologist, provide a thorough but succinct discourse on the issues faced by a man who is newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and the issues he and his spouse will have to contend with. 

Beginning with an explanation of the anatomy and physiology of the male urogenital tract, the authors quickly dive into a discussion of the various risk factors for prostate cancer and how both the digital rectal exam and prostate specific antigen tests can be used in screening. After briefly discussing benign prostatic hyperplasia and its management, they move onto the details of each of the treatment modalities for prostate cancer, including active surveillance, radiotherapy, surgery, and adjuvant therapies. 

While quite heavy on the details surrounding hospital visits leading up to and including surgery, the authors provide relatively little discussion of the current controversy surrounding the indications for each of these modalities. However, these discussions are perhaps better had within a clinical visit between a patient and his urologist given the patient-specific nature of this issue.

A great deal of the book then discusses the fallout of prostate cancer treatment from the mundane but necessary topics of catheter care and Kegel exercises to the intricacies of male self-identity following such a procedure, with particular attention spent discussing sex following prostate cancer. 

The authors are systematic in their explanation of the causes of erectile dysfunction and reasonable in the expectations they lay before the reader, highlighting the role of the partner relationship in addition to medical and surgical treatments. The final discussion is on medications ranging from hormone treatment of prostate cancer to general anesthetics and medications for treating incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

The authors summarize the most pertinent information in an extremely accessible manner in helpful tables, simple diagrams, and key-point boxes. In addition, there are quotes from the authors’ patients interspersed where relevant to the topic at hand. 

The quotes are helpful and in some cases reassuring rather than trite as I feared they might become.
While much of the book will be overly simplistic for the general practitioner and urologist, the chapters on the sexual aspects of prostate cancer and its treatment as well as the particular issues surrounding prostate cancer for homosexual men are worthwhile reading for all health care providers who care for men with prostate cancer—medical students, nurses, GPs, and urologists alike. 

For the targeted audience of patients and their partners, this book hits the mark and I believe will prove to be extremely helpful in alleviating much of the fear of the unknown that comes with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. As such, I would recommend this book to friends, family, and patients.

—Christopher J.D. Wallis
Class of 2011
UBC Faculty of Medicine

Christopher J.D. Wallis,. Book review: The Complete Canadian Guide to Prostate Cancer. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 7, September, 2009, Page(s) 290 - News.

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