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Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Falk Symposium 106). Edited by P Rutgeerts, J-F Colombel, SB Hanauer, et al(Pp 318). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0 7923 8750 3.
The proceedings of medical and scientific meetings, when published, tend to be viewed more as trophies for the participants rather than referenced texts to be consulted at a later date. In this information age, such publications are seldom a first choice for those seeking specific information on selected topics and, even then, the readership is vanishingly small. The present text is therefore a surprise because it offers an excellent overview of recent advances in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and blends insights into pathogenetic mechanisms with new therapeutic approaches. As with most Falk symposia, the selection of authors is truly international and each is a leader in the field. Several of the chapters provide more than a review, and are actually quite useful in translating research information into clinical implications of practical value. This is particularly the case in chapters dealing with genetics, cytokines, steroid therapy, and cancer in IBD. The standard of writing is not uniform and, although six editors are listed, I doubt if any had significant editorial input to the chapters. The quality of the book relies therefore on the expertise of the authors which is impressive. What is remarkable is that such a large amount of information can be presented in a concise fashion in such a slim volume and in such a readable manner. I rarely recommend books of this nature for general readership but anyone seeking a concise pain free update and overview of the field would not go far wrong with this text.