There is a widespread, but unproven, belief that the attitude of mind of the patient with advanced cancer can hasten or delay death. Many physicians will have had patients who have far outlived their prognosis, others who have ‘turned their face to the wall’ and died much sooner than expected, and some who have lived to reach an anniversary or special occasion only to deteriorate and die rapidly a few days later.

It is this aspect of cancer that is examined in this multi-authored book. The first five chapters discuss host factors and life expectancy in cancer. The next five deal with the influence of stress on endocrine and immune mechanisms. The final section delves into a more practical consideration of the meaning of supportive treatment.

It is a book that all doctors should read and reflect on as it has implications far beyond the continuing care of those with cancer.

It is a scientific entree to the psychological aspects of patient care – an indirect introduction to the all too often neglected art of medicine. Mere visits to or by a physician are not enough. What makes a visit supportive? How best can a patient be helped to live with uncertainty? Although never didactic, clues to the answers to these and many other questions are to be found in this excellent book.

Sir Michael Sobell House
Churchill Hospital, Oxford

(from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine)

Mind and Cancer Prognosis. Basil A Stoll (ed)
pp 203 £9.75 Chichester: John Wiley 1979

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