It is a sincere honor to write the foreword to this Atlas of Endocrine Tumors, compiled and written by Drs. Rena Vassilopoulou-Sellin and Mouhammed Habra. With the contemporary emphasis on sophisticated laboratory testing, advanced technology for imaging and “evidence based medicine,” the critical contribution of clinical experience and expertise to diagnosis and clinical decision making is often overlooked. Early medical textbooks, although deficient in effective therapeutics, typically contained extensive descriptions of symptoms and physical examination findings that are rarely encountered in any significant detail in their more modern corollaries. Such descriptions often included prismatic individual case histories illustrated with pictures of patients and charts of clinically measured parameters such as temperature and urine output. Physicians and other medical practitioners would learn from combining these published vignettes with the teachings of their clinical mentors and personal observations made of patients under their own care. Given the nature of uncom-mon and rare diseases, “experience” was generated from fewer personal encounters and greater reliance on the reports of such patients provided by consummate and astute clinicians. Today, despite remarkable technological advances and discoveries in basic biology, these detailed accounts of patient experiences are just as critically important as in the past.
Building on the extensive legacy of Dr. Naguib A. Samaan, the first chief of endocrinology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (then known as The MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute), the authors of the Atlas have capitalized on several decades of unparalleled clinical experience and patient narratives to create this unique monograph. Combining photographs of characteristic and uncommon physical exam findings, tables and charts displaying long-term evolution of disease markers, results of diagnostic imaging procedures and detailed descriptive text, the authors provide the modern student of endocrine neoplasia with a profound understanding of clinical presentation and pathophysiology of these uncommon disorders. For those of us fortunate enough to have participated with the authors in the weekly endocrine multidisciplinary clinical conferences at MD Anderson for many years, these and similar patient narratives represent a constantly evolving, unique primer in oncologic endocrinology. Through this publication, Drs. Vassilopoulou-Sellin and Habra make it possible for those outside of our institution to share and learn from these same instructive experiences.
Steven I. Sherman, M.D.
Chair, Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders