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Leong AS-Y, Cooper K, Joel F, Leong W-M. (£45.00.) Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 1 900151 31 6.
With the ever increasing workload in pathology and the academic and administrative bench tops, my room has become like Steptoe's backyard: strewn with brand new items such as glossy copies of pathology journals, ACP and RCPath news bulletins, commercial catalogues, theses and books to review. In addition, there are the usual painful “piles” of all and sundry correspondence, waiting to receive my immediate attention. Among this paraphernalia has lain the nicely bound copy of the book by Leong et al also waiting earnestly for its turn. Unfortunately, despite numerous conscience pricking personal reminders including “to-ings” and “fro-ings” of the book in my brief case from work to home I somehow consistently failed to find distraction free time to read it and prepare this review, which has been long overdue. Having received my first polite reminder from the Editorial Assistant, and before I was to receive the third reminder, I felt I had to promise myself to write up the review within the next 48 hours.
Thankfully, I somehow managed to pluck up enough focused energy, in the middle of a busy morning, to pick up the book and start reading it. My initial aim was simply to read the preface and the cover notes and come back to do more determined reading and analysis. Remarkably, instead, I found myself almost uncontrollably reading page after page of the main text. Before I knew it, I had spent more than an hour and covered more than one third of the book without feeling at all strained or satiated. It was almost as if I had been enjoying a magnificent Chinese meal and my mouth was still watery to attack the left overs.
In retrospect, my immense attraction and appetite for the book arose principally from the following three features: (1) It represents a quick reference guide to understanding the scientific and methodological backgrounds to virtually the full spectrum of monoclonal antibodies in present use in diagnostic immunocytochemistry. (2) It gives a concise and yet fairly incisive and accurate appraisal of the diagnostic value and limitations of each anybody marker listed. (3) The accounts are written in a systematic and easy to read style, backed up by pertinent core references.
The book also contains a set of tables in the Appendix, which provides a helpful series of diagnostic algorithms for handling commonly encountered differential diagnostic problems.
Professors Leong et al have compiled an enviably useful compendium of immunocytochemical data, which some of my colleagues and I have long thought of publishing ourselves. The book is also a long awaited follow up to a similar type of book produced nearly a decade ago by Mark Wick and Gene Siegal, which I also had the immense pleasure and privilege of reviewing.
Reading through the accounts of 170 or so listed markers, of which over 100 are in routine use in our regional unit in Wales, has been highly educational in the true spirit of our college's CPD programme. The appraisals of markers such as OR and MyoD1 are excellent in explaining the subtleties of their diagnostic utility, whereas the write ups on metallothionein and SV40 antibodies give informative insights into these new markers, and those on CD56 and CD43 are similarly illuminating. Overall, the book should serve extremely well as a quick reference guide for many keen and aspiring medical laboratory scientists, as well as trainee and consultant histopathologists.