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Melanocytic Tumors of the Skin (Afip Atlas of Tumor Pathology, Fourth Series Fascicle)

Melanocytic Tumors of the Skin - David E. Elder, George F. Murphy The only GoodReader who's ever been to my office is Eh?Eh!. We were just supposed to quick drop in and feed my fish, but when she saw my extensive collection of skin mags, her eyes just lit up. Me? I only keep them for the articles, but let me tell you: it's pretty obvious it was the pictures that had her attention! That's probably something you could have guessed for yourself; she's quite visually oriented. She spent a memorable afternoon there, feasting her eyes on skin. This book is the latest edition to that banquet. I don't know how much the censors will let me get away with, but check this out:That's melanoma, a malignant neoplasm of the skin cells responsible for making pigment. If you haven't heard the public service announcements advising you to used plenty of UV-blocking sunscreen this summer, let me clue you in: it's one of the most common malignacies of young people in the USA. It's highly preventable, but if you get it, it can be very aggressive. It can also be a diagnostic challenge to pathologists, since the earliest stages of melanoma often appear very similar to a harmless mole. Obviously, there's a lot riding on correctly distinguishing between harmless moles and incipient melanoma, and this book helps. The images support the text nicely, too.Here's a dysplastic nevus (mole), which may be mistaken for melanoma.Well, I won't bore you with any more histology. What I really want to write about what the appearance of this volume means for pathology. It is the end of an era. This book is one of the last volumes in the last series of tumor atlases the publisher, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), will ever produce. You see, the AFIP is closing its doors this year. As the name suggests, the AFIP started off in 1947 as a primarily military institution- a tumor registry for the Dept of Defense... a central location to keep track of malignancies at the dawn of the atomic age, when American forces were starting to test nuclear weapons, and work closely with nuclear reactors on ships and in submarines. Over the years, however, the AFIP expanded beyond its military mission, and grew to be a consulting institution for all pathologists. If you had a difficult case, they had a staff of world-renouned experts who could provide advice. Military doctors got the service for free, but the fees were quite resonable for everybody else. A diagnosis from the AFIP came to have the same authority in medical circles as a legal ruling from the Supreme Court. It was a nice resource for anybody in the specialty. As a side benefit, the AFIP used to publish their famous Tumor Atlas series, of which this is the last. The AFIP "fascicles" as they were called, were like an all-encompassing encyclopedia of tumor microscopy. Most pathologists have at least a few AFIP fascicles on their bookshelves, and a few I know have a complete set. Run out and get yours while you can; once the printing presses shut down for good, getting your hands on a set will be the equivalent of getting a complete set of the famed Harvard Classics.The AFIP also did epidemiology research in its day. They were well-suited for this, being a central location whom pathologists around the country would send difficult cases to. A lot of activity in the early days of AIDS research centered around the AFIP (in Washington DC) and the NIH (National Institutes of Health) located just a few miles away, in Bethesda, MD. Tourists might remember AFIP best for its housing the National Museum of Medicine. They had an amazing collection of old microscopes there, as well as medical curiousities such as the bullet that killed Kennedy, and several skeletons from the Civil War which bore the grusome results of 19th century surgery (i.e. amputations, improperly set bones, and failed reconstructions of shattered joints). You'll still be able to see these things; the collection is being moved to the Smithsonian Institute. The rest of the AFIP is going away though.*sniff*(Auld Lang Syne begings to play softly in the background)Farewell, AFIP... we hardly knew you.But why??? Why is this icon of professional and academic excellence being dismantled? Answer: politicians made the decision to cut the Institute's $100 million operating budget, in order to show that they are serious stewards of the taxpayers' money.Don't worry though; I'm sure if Goldman Sachs wants another $10 billion taxpayer-funded bailout with no strings attached, those same politicians will be happy to oblige.Don't ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.