The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a by Barron H. Lerner

By Barron H. Lerner

During this riveting narrative, Barron H. Lerner deals an exceptional clinical and cultural historical past of our century-long conflict with breast melanoma. Revisiting the previous, Lerner argues, can remove darkness from and make clear the dilemmas faced through girls with--and in danger for--the disorder. Writing with perception and compassion, Lerner tells a compelling tale of influential surgeons, fearful sufferers and devoted activists. There are colourful pics of the top figures, starting from the acerbic Dr. William Halsted, who pioneered the disfiguring radical mastectomy on the flip of the century to Rose Kushner, a brash journalist who relentlessly knowledgeable American girls approximately breast melanoma. Lerner deals a desirable account of the breast melanoma wars: the insistent efforts of physicians to conquer the ''''enemy''''; the fights waged by means of feminists to wrestle a paternalistic legacy that silenced sufferers; and the struggles of statisticians and researchers to generate definitive information within the face of the nice dangers and uncertainties raised via the disorder. And for this new paperback version, Lerner has integrated a postscript within which he discusses the hot findings the newest breast melanoma controversy: do mammograms really decrease mortality premiums or do they result in pointless mastectomies? In Lerner's arms, the struggle opposed to breast melanoma opens a window on American clinical perform during the last century: the pursuit of dramatic remedies with subtle applied sciences, the moral and criminal demanding situations raised by way of proficient consent, and the constrained skill of medical wisdom to supply quickly suggestions for severe health problems. The Breast melanoma Wars tells a narrative that's of important value to trendy breast melanoma sufferers, their households and the clinicians who attempt to regard and stop this dreaded sickness.

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Additional resources for The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America

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Yet critics would continually challenge Halsted's theories and results, including the notion that his celebrated procedure was actually "curing" the women who underwent it. ). Hippocrates, the Greek physician credited with plac- I 6 THE Breast Cancer WARS ing medicine on a rational basis, also wrote of "hard tumors within the breast" in the fifth century B . D. Greek physician living in Rome, who first situated breast cancer within a broader explanatory framework of disease. Galen ascribed to the humoral theory, which explained hseases as resulting from an imbalance of the body's four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile.

While in Europe he had attended the lectures and operations of Volkrnann and the Vienna surgeon Theodor Billroth, who argued that breast surgeons should remove more tissue than they had before. Prior to recommendng such procedures himself, however, Halsted conducted a series of laboratory experiments that investigated tissue healing, suturing techmque, and skin grafting. Once convinced that extensive but metidous operations offered better outcomes for thyroid goiters, abdominal hernias, and breast cancers, he developed new procedures for these conditions.

The centerpiece of this effort was to teach women to examine their own breasts in the hopes of discovering smaller, presumably more curable cancers. To motivate American women to participate, the ACS and other anticancer organizations used combat metaphors that linked the "war" on breast cancer with the recent American military triumph. They also promoted their efforts by using the rhetoric of fear, a not uncommon tactic in what had become America's latest political conflict-the Cold War. Syond their connection to military language, breast self-examination and routine breast examination by physicians raised important issues regarding women's privacy and sexuality.

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