The Breast Cancer Wars : Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America: Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America
Barron H. Lerner Angelica Berrie Gold Foundation Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Oxford University Press, May 31, 2001 - Medical - 400 pages
In this riveting narrative, Barron H. Lerner offers a superb medical and cultural history of our century-long battle with breast cancer. Revisiting the past, Lerner argues, can illuminate and clarify the dilemmas confronted by women with--and at risk for--the disease. Writing with insight and compassion, Lerner tells a compelling story of influential surgeons, anxious patients and committed activists. There are colorful portraits of the leading figures, ranging from the acerbic Dr. William Halsted, who pioneered the disfiguring radical mastectomy at the turn of the century to George Crile, Jr., the Cleveland surgeon who shocked the medical establishment by "going public" with his doubts about mastectomy, to Rose Kushner, a brash journalist who relentlessly educated American women about breast cancer. Lerner offers a fascinating account of the breast cancer wars: the insistent efforts of physicians to vanquish the "enemy"; the fights waged by feminists and maverick doctors to combat a paternalistic legacy that discouraged decision-making by patients; and the struggles of statisticians and researchers to generate definitive data in the face of the great risks and uncertainties raised by the disease. As easy as it is to demonize male physicians, the persistence of the radical mastectomy and other invasive treatments has had as much to do with the complicated scientific understandings of breast cancer as with sexism. In Lerner's hands, the fight against breast cancer opens a window on American medical practice over the last century: the pursuit of dramatic cures with sophisticated technologies, the emergence of patients' rights, the ethical and legal challenges raised by informed consent, and the limited ability of scientific knowledge to provide quick solutions for serious illnesses. A searching and profound work on an emotionally charged issue, The Breast Cancer Wars tells a story that remains of vital importance to modern breast cancer patients, their families and the clinicians who strive to treat and prevent this dreaded disease.
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The breast cancer wars: hope, fear, and the pursuit of a cure in twentieth-century AmericaUser Review - Book Verdict
Military metaphors have long been used in promoting breast cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment. In The Breast Cancer Wars, Lerner (medicine, Columbia Univ.) presents a remarkably readable understanding of distinctly American attitudes toward the disease and the ways in which American culture and society have influenced its treatment. Restricting his history to the 20th century, with a focus on the years from 1945 to 1980, Lerner begins by describing surgical pioneer William Halsted's radical mastectomy in a medical and historical context. Halsted's treatment was considered by some to be not radical enough and later, as the century progressed, was thought far too extensive. Lerner deftly profiles breast cancer survivors, celebrity spokeswomen, surgeons, and researchers and even makes the concept of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), first introduced in the United States in 1971, understandable to the lay reader. There are a few minor problems in this extensively researched and annotated book some medical terminology, which could be more extensively defined in the glossary, is explained in parentheses, and concerns over the environmental causes of breast cancer are mentioned only in passing. Ellen Leopold's A Darker Ribbon (LJ 10/1/99) covered a similar time period using a feminist, activist approach. Lerner's book is essential for women's studies and history of medicine collections, but no public or academic library could go wrong in adding it to its collection. (Index not seen.) Martha E. Stone, Treadwell Lib., Boston ...
Review: The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century AmericaUser Review - Goodreads
I enjoyed this book but some chapters had so much info crammed into them that it felt almost like reading a list or something - I wanted him to go into more detail on some of the people and concepts ...
2 Establishing a Tradition
3 Inventing a Curable Disease
4 The Scalpel Triumphant
5 A Heretical Interlude
6 Reality Check
7 I Alone Am in Charge of My Body
10 The World Has Passed Us By
11 The Past as Prologue
12 Risky Business
Glossary of Breast Cancer Operations