Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society

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Unnatural History explores the change over the last two centuries from isolated, private fears to an immense individual and collective risk of breast cancer. The book begins with the experiences of a Quaker woman diagnosed with breast cancer in 1812 and ends with our problematic era in which almost every woman is waiting for 'the axe to fall'. In between, the book traces changes in the beliefs and values of women and their doctors, medical knowledge and technology, clinical and public health practices, and the biological impact of the disease. Unnatural History suggests that we have oversold both the fear of breast cancer and the effectiveness of screening and treatment, leading to miscalculation at the individual and societal levels.