A Woman’s Disease: The History of Cervical Cancer - download pdf or read online

By Ilana Lowy

ISBN-10: 0199548811

ISBN-13: 9780199548811

Cervical melanoma is an emotive sickness with a number of connotations. It has stood for the horror of melanoma, the curse of femininity, the desire of state of the art clinical applied sciences and the promise of screening for malignant tumours. for a very long time, this sickness used to be pointed out with the main dreaded features of malignancies: lengthy invalidity and protracted discomfort, but in addition actual degradation, disgrace and social isolation. Cervical melanoma displayed in parallel the risks of being a girl.

In the 20 th century, thoughts at the start constructed to manage cervical melanoma - radiotherapy and radium remedy, exfoliate cytology (Pap smear), homogenisation of the 'staging' of tumours, mass campaigns for an early detection of precancerous lesions of the cervix - set criteria for analysis, remedy and prevention of alternative malignancies. within the overdue twentieth century, cervical melanoma underwent one other vital switch. With the demonstrate of the position of chosen strands of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) within the genesis of this malignancy, it was once remodeled right into a sexually transmitted affliction. This new figuring out of cervical melanoma associated it extra firmly with way of life offerings, and hence elevated the risk of stigmatisation of sufferers; however it opened the prospect for effective prevention of this malignancy via vaccination.

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Doctors were therefore strongly advised to refrain from mentioning the word ‘cancer’ to women with suspicious gynaecological 26 e ar ly history of tumours of the womb symptoms. Moreover, even if a woman had a cancerous ‘sore’, doctors hoped to be able to prevent the transformation of a potentially curable scirrhous into an incurable cancer of the womb. Nineteenth-century gynaecologists had conflicting definitions of the point at which a scirrhous was transformed into a ‘true’ cancer. For some, such a change took place only when the tumour greatly increased in volume, became painful, and developed multiple blood vessels that nourished it.

Women were valorized through their capacity to produce healthy children, especially male heirs, and nearly all their health problems were related to their reproductive organs, above all the uterus. The distinctive, and highly distressing symptoms of advanced uterine tumours attracted the attention of some doctors of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. An Egyptian papyrus from 1700 bc described a disease of the womb that might have been a malignant tumour. There are possible allusions to uterine tumours in Hippocratic writings (fourth century bc), and in Hindu manuscripts from approximately the same period.

Ten years later only one-tenth of his patients died. In addition, abdominal operation greatly reduced the chances of a rapid local recurrence of cancer. When women underwent vaginal hysterectomy, not infrequently their cancer returned in the operation scar, sometimes as soon as several weeks after the surgery. Such a quasi-immediate return of the cancer was rarely seen after the radical operation. Finally, advocates of abdominal hysterectomy rejected their opponents’ claims that the more radical operation did not favour long-term survival.

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A Woman’s Disease: The History of Cervical Cancer by Ilana Lowy

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