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

By Ilana Lowy

Cervical melanoma is an emotive affliction with a number of connotations. It has stood for the horror of melanoma, the curse of femininity, the wish 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 elements of malignancies: lengthy invalidity and protracted ache, but in addition actual degradation, disgrace and social isolation. Cervical melanoma displayed in parallel the hazards of being a girl.

In the 20 th century, ideas in the beginning built to manage cervical melanoma - radiotherapy and radium treatment, 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 prognosis, remedy and prevention of different malignancies. within the past due twentieth century, cervical melanoma underwent one other vital swap. With the reveal 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 illness. This new knowing 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 chance for effective prevention of this malignancy via vaccination.

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Extra resources for A Woman’s Disease: The History of Cervical Cancer

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The great majority of women who underwent a vaginal ablation of the uterus had an uneventful recovery, while up to a quarter of those who underwent abdominal hysterectomy suffered from severe bladder or gut problems. Advocates of vaginal hysterectomy also affirmed that the abdominal operation did not produce more long-term cures than the vaginal one. Advocates of radical abdominal hysterectomy strongly disagreed. They argued that only the opening of the abdominal cavity allowed the surgeon to see whether the cancer had spread beyond the uterus and, if this was the case, either to attempt to eliminate all the abnormal tissues or, if the disease was too advanced, to abstain from a useless intervention.

Many surgeons were persuaded that more extensive surgery gave the patient better chances of a cure, and replaced excision of the cancerous cervix with ablation of the whole uterus. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, many women survived hysterectomy for uterine malignancies, but only a few achieved long-lasting remission. In the great majority of operated patients, the cancer returned promptly. In spite of the paucity of long-term cures, surgeons continued to perform hysterectomies. One possible reason might have been a hope that some women would be saved from an unavoidable death.

He performed this operation on 44 cancer patients, and only 2 among them survived for more than 2 years. ’2 The US gynaecologist Charles P. Noble expressed a similar hope in 1892. ’3 The views of Richelot and Noble were shared by many of their colleagues. At the end of the nineteenth century textbooks of gynaecology stressed that all the women with operable cancers—that is, tumours limited to the uterus—should undergo hysterectomy. Local treatments, such as cauterization or the application of antiseptic substances, once seen as an efficient treatment for an early scirrhous, were redefined as preparatory steps for a surgery or, alternatively, a palliative treatment which could alleviate some of the more bothersome symptoms of women with ‘inoperable’ cancer; that is, a tumour which had spread beyond the uterus.

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