The Breast Cancer Wars
Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of A Cure in Twentieth-century AmericaBook - 2001
In this riveting narrative, Barron H. Lerner offers a superb medical and cultural history of our century-long battle with breast cancer--in a tale that also illuminates the changing nature of medical practice in America. Writing with insight and compassion, Lerner tells a compelling story of influential surgeons, anxious patients and powerful advocates. There are colorful portraits of the leading figures, ranging from the acerbic Dr. William Halsted, who pioneered the disfiguring radical mastectomy at the turnof 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 breastcancer 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 ofthe great 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, the rise of patients' rights, the growing awareness of the complexities of medical decision-making, and the limited ability of scientific knowledgeto provide quick solutions. A searching and profound work on an emotionally charged issue, The Breast Cancer Wars recounts a historical saga that remains of vital importance to modern breast cancer patients and clinicians.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Characteristics: xvi, 383 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm.