Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Cancer in the Twentieth Century

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Cancer in the Twentieth Century

Article excerpt

Cancer in the Twentieth Century Edited by David Cantor (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) (350 pages; $25.00 paper)

Cancer in the Twentieth Century is a compilation of selected papers presented at a 2004 same-named workshop at the National Institutes of Health in 2004. As editor, David Cantor presents these papers organized into three themes: "Between Education and Marketing," "Therapeutics," and "Prevention and Risk." Focusing primarily on Britain and the United States, these selections provide a trajectory of thought to cancer approaches and treatments from the early 1900s to the 1980s. Only a few specific cancers are addressed, serving as global representations for this disease.

Whereas early American approaches to cancer focused on detection, treatment, and public education, the British approach differed in its focus geared more to the practitioner and therapies. Indeed, the British led the use of radium for cancer treatment in the 1920s and 1930s. The section "Between Education and Marketing" highlights the differences between these philosophical approaches to public cancer education. American approaches included the use of media for public education, particularly the movies. The American Cancer Society spearheaded funding movies, trailers, and shorts with mixed results. Increasing cancer awareness through publicizing children's cancers, most notably the "Jimmy Fund," spurred fundraising efforts geared to research and cure. Public education efforts in the British approach were not as valued or seen as effective as within the United States.

The "Therapeutics" section addresses various therapies and the development of clinical trials as a method to determine alternatives to surgery for cancer treatment. Feminist surgeons in 1920s Britain were in the forefront of establishing radium usage for cervical cancer treatment and sought to establish radiotherapy as an alternative to surgery for some cancers.

Clinical trials as an emerging development post-World War II in the United States and Europe with multisite research investigated various drug protocols for the best outcomes. …

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