Anyone newly diagnosed with a disease faces their news at a rich time in history, as science is always on the move. Researchers are now, for example, working on ways to personalize chemotherapy for those who have triple-negative breast tumors, the kind that don’t respond to more conventional treatments. Also, the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, recently allocated $12 million to study the prevalence of aggressive forms of breast cancer among black women. Still, the diagnosis creates terrible uncertainty; everyday life is turned upside down, and patients and their families must deal with questions large and small. The books below tackle a range of issues facing patients, caregivers, and even those who are so far unaffected but are in the breast cancer–screening years. Advice and stories span the deeply personal to the political, from medical and diet information to coping with changes in physical appearance.
American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Clear & Simple: All Your Questions Answered. 2d ed. American Cancer Soc. Aug. 2016. 208p. ISBN 9781604432367. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781604432466. HEALTH
This title, presented in Q&A format from a trusted source, is aimed at the newly diagnosed, also promising counsel for their caregivers, a group who need support of their own. The new edition has a less clinical-appearing cover than its 2007 predecessor; the update, says the publisher, “includes tips for choosing the right doctor, understanding treatment choices, dealing with the effects of treatment, seeking support groups, and much more.”
Consumer Dummies. Detecting and Living with Breast Cancer for Dummies. Wiley. (For Dummies). Sept. 2016. 384p. illus. index. ISBN 9781119272243. pap. $22.99. HEALTH
Librarians and patrons are by now familiar with the “For Dummies” series: no-nonsense information presented in a straightforward fashion. The titles deliver the basics quickly, and this one, endorsed by the American Breast Cancer Foundation, will be just the ticket for those needing cancer details. A forerunner of this entry, Breast Cancer for Dummies, lists what the various members of a treatment team do, describes what to expect, and offers information on everything from mutated genes to hair loss.
Keshtgar, Mohammed. The Breast Cancer Cookbook: Over 100 Easy Recipes To Nourish and Boost Health During and After Treatment. Hardie Grant. Oct. 2016. 176p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781849498395. $29.95. COOKING
Keshtgar (EMQs and Data Interpretation Questions in Surgery; Patient Pictures Breast Cancer), a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer, and food writer and stylist Emily Jonzen (Teatime: 50 Cakes and Bakes for Every Occasion; The 2-Day Diet Cookbook) present recipes for a variety of meals, palates, and lifestyles, ranging from breakfast to dessert, vegetarian dishes to shellfish. All will help current and recovering patients apply Keshtgar’s belief in the positive role of fresh foods to improve health. As the recipes include such diverse foods and meal types, the suggested diet may work for nonpatients and patients alike and for longer than the disease is a part of their lives.
Strach, Patricia. Hiding Politics in Plain Sight: Cause Marketing, Corporate Influence, and Breast Cancer Policymaking. Oxford Univ. Sept. 2016. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190606848. $99; pap. ISBN 9780190606855. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780190606879. POL SCI
Reporting for the New York Times last year (ow.ly/r2FE302p8f1), Gina Kolata noted that some groups fighting breast cancer eschew what has come to be called “pinkification” or “pinkwashing”—there’s enough awareness, they say; it’s time for action. Strach (political science & public administration & policy, SUNY Albany; former Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research, Harvard Univ.), however, argues that marches and other kinds of “cause marketing” do more than raise awareness: they’re a strong force for policy change and have helped alleviate the stigma surrounding the disease. Strach’s work is “something different” to add to the shelves of business and marketing programs and will be informative to political-leaning cancer patients, too.
Chace, Daniella. Breast Cancer Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Research-Based Recipes for Prevention and Recovery. HCI. Sept. 2016. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9780757319396. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780757319402. HEALTH
Clinical nutritionist and educator Chace explains that most people diagnosed with cancer have nutritional deficiencies, and large-scale studies have shown that most women diagnosed with breast cancer are lacking in vitamin D. These facts, as well as behaviors the author noticed among her patients—the need for cold food, for example, as the smell of cooked meals triggered nausea—led her to create and test these recipes for dozens of smoothies featuring fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and more. After providing a breast cancer nutrition overview, Chace describes the equipment found in a healthy kitchen; smoothie-making steps; and ingredient purchase, prep, and storage. The recipes, which make up the bulk of the book, are presented in 11 sections on types such as apple, carrot juice, coconut water, and green tea, with ten-plus recipes in each segment. Appendixes include a listing of ingredients beneficial for patients with specific breast cancer subtypes and references to the medical and nutritional information Chace presents. VERDICT While anyone will benefit from and enjoy these yummy smoothies (shown in color photos), the nutritional aspects specific to breast cancer subtypes and the list of foods to avoid make it a valuable addition to a patient’s arsenal.
Gerber, Merrill Joan. Beauty and the Breast: A Tale of Breast Cancer, Love, and Friendship. Coffeetown. Oct. 2016. 192p. photos. ISBN 9781603815260. pap. $14.95. MEMOIR
Cancer patients must each find a way to face their diagnosis and take on the big questions with regard to treatments as well as small, day-to-day concerns. Here, Gerber (The Hysterectomy Waltz) chronicles it all, including conversations with her family, her experience with radiation, the love she found in a support group, and more in short, easily digestible chapters. She also includes clear, black-and-white close-ups of her affected breast during various stages of treatment, among other images. VERDICT Illness memoirs abound, and plenty of them address life with cancer; the featured photographs of the author make this one stand out among the pack.
Hollingsworth, Alan B. Mammography and Early Breast Cancer Detection: How Screening Saves Lives. McFarland. (Health Topics). Oct. 2016. 260p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781476666105. pap. $35. HEALTH
In 2015, the American Cancer Society announced new mammography guidelines: women should begin to get annual mammograms at age 45, switching to every other year at age 55, which is less frequently than previously advised. Physician Hollingsworth (medical director, Mercy Breast Ctr., Oklahoma City) is concerned that both doctors and the public have become overly enamored of the “less is more” philosophy of breast cancer screening. “Nobody,” says the author, “is concentrating on bringing back to the fold women who erroneously reject such check- ups,” a phenomenon he finds of far more concern than overestimating the benefits of screening. In detailed, clearly written chapters such as “Biology Can Trump, but Size Matters,” “Circumstantial Evidence-Based Medicine,” and “Do These Genes Make Me Look Dense?” the author, who in 1993 was one of the first U.S. physicians to begin a formal risk-assessment program, uses his expertise and current findings to convince readers that screening is still worth it. The book’s ample notes and bibliography offer plentiful avenues for further exploration. VERDICT There are an abundance of “less-is-more” resources available on this subject; however, Hollingsworth’s confident, accessible argument against such a philosophy provides a welcome look at another option.