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What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Colorectal Cancer: New Tests, New Treatments, New Hope    by Mark Bennett Pochapin order for
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Colorectal Cancer
by Mark Bennett Pochapin
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is another entry in the informative What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About ... series, this time focusing on cancers of the colon and rectum. The foreword is by Today show co-anchor Katie Couric, whose husband Jay died of the disease, and the impact of whose major promotion of colorectal cancer screening has been called the 'Couric Effect' by University of Michigan researchers.

Dr. Mark Pochapin calls this 'The Disease No One Has to Die From'. He tells us that though it is 'the number two cause of cancer related deaths', it has a better than 90% cure rate IF caught early. Unfortunately, he also warns us that 80% of Americans don't do proper screening (and I'm sure the picture is similar in other countries). He discusses five screening test options and what is involved in each in some detail, including risks, and with sensible suggestions like bringing a book and moist wipes to your colonoscopy. Tables relate screening guidelines to different categories of colorectal cancer risk.

The first half of the book covers: a kind of Digestion 101 told with some humor; deadly myths about the disease (it's not just men and old folk); risk factors (including genetic); 'Colon-Friendly Nutrition' (this comes with a quiz and sample meal plans, and it's no surprise that lots of fruit, vegetables and fiber are recommended); and pros and cons of 'Supplements and Chemoprevention'. The second half explains diagnosis of the disease and its stages, 'Choosing Dr. Right', hospital and medical team. Advisability of surgery and potential complications are covered, as is chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and their side effects.

Information is presented in a positive manner and explained clearly, and new therapies (currently undergoing clinical trials) give hope. The author also discusses the use of nonconventional therapies to bolster the immune system and hence complement established treatments, including a section on those he believes should be avoided. Much of this material is relevant to any form of cancer. The book ends by answering questions about 'Life after Colorectal Cancer', in particular what to watch for, and the need to 'heal from within'. There is a long section on Resources, sample treatment logs, and a glossary.

If you are at risk for colorectal cancer then you will find this book an extremely useful resource, and we all need to heed its advice on proper screening. It's clear, thorough, and positive in approach, filling in informative details that your doctor may have missed telling you about, or that you may have been too stressed to remember.

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