Book Reviews

Health-Care Policy

A Dose of Destruction and Tough Love for Health Care

Ronald Piana  /  March 1, 2012

Title: The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care
 Author: Eric Topol, MD Publisher: Basic Books Publication date: February 1, 2012 Price: $27.99 / $31.00 (CAN), Hardcover, 320 pages More information:

An Oncologist’s Memoir

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2015

BOOKMARK Title: Megalies: A Memoir Author: Lodovico Balducci, MD Publisher: Resource Publications Publication date: February 28, 2014 Price: $33.00; hardcover, 304 pages Reading a good book produces various sensory responses; a skilled author exerts his or her narrative power on each page, w...

Issues in Oncology

Medical Ethicists Reflect on Their Personal Cancer Experiences

Ronald Piana  /  July 1, 2012

The recently published book, Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer, takes a personal look at the cancer experience from the perspective of seven medical ethicists who were also patients with cancer or cared for spouses with cancer.1 The book’s editor, Rebecca Dresser, JD, MS, who teaches law ...

The Human Heart: Tales of Science and Mystery

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2015

BOOKMARK Title: The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery Author: Rob Dunn Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Publication date: February 3, 2015 Price: $27.00; hardcover, 384 pages No part of the human anatomy has been as mythologized, analogized, and p...

Attempt to Transform Venipuncture: A Brilliant Idea Made From Smoke and Mirrors

Ronald Piana  /  March 10, 2020

Venipuncture is the most commonly performed invasive procedure in hospitals daily. The risk of this procedure is nerve damage or an arterial nick. Of course, there are other possible issues, such as hematoma and injection-site infection. Then there’s dealing with caterwauling children and swooning a...

Breast Cancer

Almost 20 Years Later, Breast Fitness Is More Relevant Than Ever

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast CancerAuthors: Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD; Julie Gralow, MD; and Lisa TalbottPublisher: St. Martin’s PressPublication Date: October 2000 (first edition)Price: $48.75, hardcover, 352 pages   The Nat...

A New Book Deals With an Age-Old Crisis: Cancer Patients and Mortality

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2017

The field of psycho-oncology began to take hold in the mid-1970s, when the “C” word was beginning to lose its long-held stigmatization, and patients with cancer could finally begin to openly reveal their diagnosis and express their feelings about their life-threatening disease. Despite that soc...

Issues in Oncology
CNS Cancers

A Firsthand Account of Cancer and Mental Illness

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2018

Brain tumors are among the most challenging clinical scenarios faced by the oncology community. Along with devastating physiologic damage, brain tumors often have a dramatic effect on the patient’s cognitive, neurologic, and psychological functions. However, the body of literature focusing on neurop...

Scientist, Father of A Child With Autism Pushes Back on the Antivaccine Movement

Ronald Piana  /  June 10, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism DadAuthor: Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhDPublisher: Johns Hopkins University PressPublication date: October 2018Price: $22.95, hardcover; 240 pages English physician Edward Jenner invente...

From Leeches to Liquid Biopsy: Uncovering the Mysteries of Blood

Ronald Piana  /  June 10, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of BloodAuthor: Rose GeorgePublisher: Metropolitan BooksPublication date: October 2018Price: $27.00, hardcover, 368 pages Blood has been mythologized and misunderstood since the earliest records of humankind and sti...

A Daughter Struggles Through Her Father’s Battle With Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: White Hot Grief Parade: A Memoir Author: Alexandra Silber Publisher: Pegasus Books Publication date: July 2018 Price: $25.95, hardcover; 288 pages   The sudden death of a loved one produces a different type of trauma for family and friends than the protracted fading away of ...


A Journey Through the Immune System

Ronald Piana  /  September 25, 2018

Although the basic concept of using the body’s immune defense mechanisms to fight cancer has been around for centuries, the idea of using immunotherapy in cancer, in general, returned to prominence when Dr. Thomas Burnet first proposed the theory of cancer immunosurveillance in 1957. Despite promisi...

Solid Tumors
Prostate Cancer

A Medical Oncologist Urges Men to Keep Their Prostates

Ronald Piana  /  July 10, 2018

With the development of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in the early 1990s, the urology community advocated for population screening of all men of a certain age, igniting a heated argument about the test’s clinical value vs potential harms that has not abated to this day. Moreover, from...

A Pioneering Oncologist’s Roadmap Forward

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2016

Bookmark Title: The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable—and How We Can Get There Authors: Vincent T. DeVita, Jr, MD, and Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication dat...

The Opioid Crisis as Told From the Streets to the Clinics and Its Unintended Consequences

Ronald Piana  /  March 25, 2020

The history of drug addictions and epidemics in the United States dates back to the Civil War, when morphine was introduced as a pain medication for wounded soldiers. Regular off-label use of morphine quickly spread from war hospitals to the general public. It is estimated that more than 400,000 Ame...

The Obesity Epidemic From a Neuroscience Perspective

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2019

Since the 1970s, there has been an alarming increase in obesity. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese. Excess body weight is linked to numerous diseases, including more than 14 types of cancers. ...

On Aging and the Wellness Industry

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2018

Only a few centuries ago, the major source of moral and scientific authority in Western culture was religion, which requires trusting one of numerous supernatural deities. However, the presumption that medicine is based on evidence-based and peer-reviewed science is what gives it authority in modern...

Fear’s Many Deleterious Consequences

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2016

Bookmark Title: The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul Author: Lissa Rankin, MD Publisher: Hay House, Inc Publication date: February 23, 2015 Price: $25.99; hardcover, 336 pages   Fear is a healthy survival mechanism, a fight-or-flight response designed t...

Exploring the History and Psychology of Pain: Beyond the Clinical Setting

Ronald Piana  /  May 25, 2015

BOOKMARKTitle: The Story of Pain: From Prayer to PainkillersAuthor: Joanna BourkePublisher: Oxford University PressPublication date: 2014Price: $34.95: hardcover, 416 page   “Pain may even kill. It may overwhelm the nervous system by its mere magnitude & duration.” —Peter Mere Latham, 1871 ...

Supportive Care

Getting the Right End-of-life Care: Coming to Terms with the Realities of Advanced Disease and Mortality

Ronald Piana  /  September 15, 2012

“Dying is at once a fact of life and a profound mystery.” That was the opening sentence of a 1997 Institute of Medicine report, Approaching Death: Improving Care at the End of Life, a much-needed jump-start in the national dialogue over identifying the barriers that impede the delivery of high-quali...

Issues in Oncology

Former JAMA Editor Offers Perspective on Challenges Past and Present in American Health Care

Ronald Piana  /  February 25, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: Severed Trust: Why American Medicine Hasn’t Been FixedAuthor: George D. Lundberg, MD, With James StaceyPublisher: Basic BooksPublication date: March 2001Price: $28.00, hardcover, 336 pages Pathologist George D. Lundberg, MD, served as Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of the America...

Learning to Listen and Returning to the Art of Medicine

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2018

Bernard Lown, MD, was born in Lithuania, the son of a rabbi. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 14, where his scientific precocity bloomed. After attaining his medical degree from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, he pursued his passion of raising international awareness of s...

A Social Media Guide by a Doctor for Doctors

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2017

Today’s brave new world of digital technology has both enhanced and compromised the day-to-day operational efficiency of ultrabusy oncologists who are struggling to balance patient care with the rapid evolution of technology. Like all scientific advances, health-care technology is a double-edged...

An Epic Medical Story by an Old-Style Doctor on the Front Lines of Care

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2016

The U.S. health-care system is a $3 trillion behemoth of dizzying complexity. Government oversight, ever-changing regulations, mountains of paperwork, electronic health records, initiative after initiative, and so forth, all of which has reshaped the delivery of care, for the good and bad. But o...

A Famous French Oncologist’s Gastronomic Advice for Reducing Cancer Risk

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2016

BookmarkTitle: The Anti-cancer Diet: Reduce Cancer Risk Through the Foods You EatAuthors:  David Khayat, MDPublisher: W.W. Norton & CompanyPublication date: April 2015Price: $26.95; hardcover, 288 pages   In 2002, David Khayat, MD, was in Turkey on holiday with friends when he received a call ...

Palliative Care

Important Messages about Palliative Care and Hospice at the Heart of New End-of-life Memoir 

Ronald Piana  /  February 15, 2013

The illness memoir’s appeal proves enduring in a very crowded genre, perhaps because illness is a tie that binds us all. As Susan Sontag wrote in her classic work, Illness as a Metaphor, “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in t...

Issues in Oncology

The Story of a Notorious Cluster of Childhood Cancers

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: Toms River: A Story of Science and SalvationAuthor: Dan FaginPublisher: Random HouseOriginal publication date: March 2013Price: $28.00, hardcover, 560 pages The Toms River emerges in the Pine Barrens of northern Ocean County, New Jersey, and zigzags through wetlands, emptying int...

Supportive Care

Inside Look at Widowers Coping With Grief

Ronald Piana  /  June 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine LifeAuthors: Donald L. Rosenstein, MD, and Justin M. Yopp, PhDPublisher: Oxford University PressPublication Date: January 2018Price: $28.95; hardcover, 192 pages Looking back, the cancer advocacy movement took shape in two waves: the fir...

A New Manual for the Expanding Field of Bone Marrow Transplantation

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2017

The first hematopoietic stem cell transplant was pioneered by E. Donnall Thomas, MD, and published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September 12, 1957. Although the six patients on his trial all died by 100 days post transplantation, Dr. Thomas remained undaunted, continuing his groundbre...

The Healing Power of Words

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2016

Feminist literary scholar Susan Gubar was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in November 2008. She then began her emigration “from the world of the healthy to the domain of the ill,” she wrote in her acclaimed book, Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer. In her memoir, she deta...

Things May Not Be What They Seem: Are Old Cancer Treatment Theories New Again?

Ronald Piana  /  April 10, 2016

The adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” is true, but authors still need to be aware of the importance of first impressions. The title of science writer Travis Christofferson’s book Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path t...

Breast Cancer

A TV Host’s Breast Cancer Survival Story

Ronald Piana  /  March 10, 2016

Bookmark Title: Had I Known: A Memoir of SurvivalAuthor: Joan Lunden with Laura MortonPublisher: Harper CollinsPublication date: September 2015Price: $26.99; hardcover, 336 pages In 1974, several weeks after Betty Ford became the nation’s First Lady, she underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer....

Family Archivist Holds Joyful Memories Amid Grief of Losing Loved Ones

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: The Trail to Tincup: Love Stories at Life’s EndEditors: Joyce Lynnette HockerPublisher: She Writes PressPublication date: May 2018Price: $23.95, hardcover, 288 pages Human mortality is embedded in the day-to-day challenges of clinical oncology; a cancer diagnosis is a reality che...

A Celebrity Gadfly’s Reflections on His Death and Other Things Meant to Irritate

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: MortalityAuthor: Christopher HitchensPublisher: Twelve: Hachette Book GroupOriginal Publication Date: May 13, 2014Price: $19.95, paperback, 128 pages “There are no atheists in foxholes” is an aphorism used to contend that in times of extreme fear, such as during war or facing a l...

A Doctor’s Call to Arms About the Overuse of Antibiotics

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2017

On September 3, 1928, Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming returned to London from a vacation and sorted through some petri dishes containing colonies of Staphylococcus. He noticed something unusual in one dish: It was dotted with colonies except for one area where a patch of mold grew. Immediatel...

Inspirational Stories for Cancer Survivors

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2016

Surveys indicate that cancer survivors have varying desires regarding the kind of support they want. Some patients find support groups very helpful as they deal with the host of issues in survivorship. Others want to distance themselves from the “world of cancer.” Studies also show that enrollme...

Radiation: Myths, Facts, Dangers and Benefits

Ronald Piana  /  April 25, 2016

For many, the word “radiation” conjures up images of mushroom clouds and the nightmarish nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. It also brings to mind those pesky dental x-rays and lifesaving cancer treatments. However, to most people, radiation is a mysterious invisible power to be feared and embraced ...

A Political Activist Challenges the Drug Approval Process and the U.S. Government

Ronald Piana  /  April 10, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) primary concern in the drug approval process is to ensure that the drug is safe and effective. For the past several decades, the advocacy groups have vociferously painted the agency as a stodgy bureaucracy that prevents desperate patients access to...

Emergency Medicine Doctor Reflects on 5 Decades of Career Experiences

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: Patient Care: Death and Life in the Emergency RoomAuthor: Paul Seward, MDPublisher: CatapultPublication Date: July 2018Price: $22.95, hardcover, 240 page The history of emergency medicine residency training is interlaced with the impetus for specialty status in emergency medicine...


Is Some DNA Worthless?

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the GenomeAuthor: Nessa CareyPublisher: Columbia University PressOriginal publication date: April 2015Price: $22.95, paperback, 360 pages When biologists first delved into the human wonder of genes in the 1970s, they eventually disco...

Tales From the OR: A Pediatric Surgeon’s Memoir

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2017

CARING FOR sick children brings with it a set of emotional and physical challeneges that differ from those with the adult patient population. In a new book, Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories From the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine, Kurt Newman, MD, draws on more than 30 years of his experienc...

A Concerned Physician Reflects on Today’s Doctor-Patient Relationship

Ronald Piana  /  July 10, 2016

Doctoring isn’t what it used to be. Like many other professions, it has gone through a multitude of changes ostensibly to improve efficiencies and lower costs. The digital age has reshaped clinical practice from the front office to the exam room. And with the advent of electronic health records ...

A History of Medical Care for the Dying

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2016

In 2006, palliative care became a board-certified subspecialty of internal medicine, with specialized fellowships for physicians interested in the field. Despite its formal integration into best practices medical care, about 70% of Americans describe themselves as “not at all knowledgeable” abou...

The Opioid Overdose Crisis: Victims, Villains, and the Gray Area in Between

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2019

According to politicians and the media, such as award-winning journalist Beth Macy, we are in the midst of the worst drug crisis in American history. Sparked first by oxycodone and broadening into heroin and fentanyl, opioid addiction is indeed ravaging communities across the nation, largely in econ...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

The Unhealthy Health-Care System, and How to Fix It

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2019

BOOKMARK Title: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It BackAuthor: Elisabeth Rosenthal, MDPublisher: Penguin PressPublication Date: April 2017Price: $27.95, hardcover; 416 pages The United States spends considerably more on health care than all other wea...

Addressing the Challenges of Intimacy After Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2017

The literature has documented the stress and damage that intimacy problems cause among women undergoing cancer treatment and during survivorship. A new book, Sex and Cancer: Intimacy, Romance, and Love After Diagnosis and Treatment, by Saketh R. Guntupalli, MD, and Maryann Karinch tackles the prob...

A Frank Memoir About Doctors, Patients, and the Health-Care System

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2017

“In 1981, 2 days after my older brother Matthew was born, my father sawed off the tip of his index finger.” So begins No Apparent Distress: A Doctor’s Coming of Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine, a memoir by Rachel Pearson, MD, who is currently a resident at Seattle Children’s Hospital...

The Serendipitous Road to Drug Development

Ronald Piana  /  June 10, 2017

BOOKMARK Title: The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New MedicinesAuthors: Donald R. Kirsch, PhD, and Ogi Ogas, PhDPublisher: Arcade PublishingPublication date: January 2017Price: $24.99, hardcover, 328 pages Only about 1 in 100 drug discovery projects initiated by the pharmaceutic...

A New Book Explores an Old Subject: Aging

Ronald Piana  /  September 1, 2014

Title: Lighter as We Go: Virtues, Character Strengths, and AgingAuthors: Mindy Greenstein, PhD, and Jimmie Holland, MDPublisher: Oxford University Press Publication date: September 2014Price: $27.95; Hardcover, 320 pages   Death is the universal experience shared by Earth’s 7 billion or so inhabit...

Living a Full Life After a Diagnosis of Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2018

BOOKMARK Title: Here We Grow: Mindfulness Through Cancer and BeyondAuthor: Paige DavisPublisher: She Writes PressDate: May 2018Price: $22.95, paperback, 154 pages Since the publication of Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s best-selling book, When Breath Becomes Air, about his diagnosis of cancer and untimely ...