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Am J Public Health. 1997 Nov;87(11):1779-87.

Engendering the dread disease: women, men, and cancer.

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  • 1Medical Humanities and Social Sciences Program, University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign 61801, USA.


This paper, based on an analysis of cancer articles published in popular periodical literature since the early part of the century, argues that gender has played a key role in medical and popular understandings of cancer. Cancer education, the author finds, has taught women and men different things. Public health materials created with the intention of improving health through education actually send a multiplicity of messages, not all of them helpful. This essay suggests that public health messages targeted by sex are problematic, although perhaps necessary. The paper also contributes to scholarship concerned with the question of how people develop their ideas about risk of disease.

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