Changing medical understandings of cervical cancer and the development of screening programs in post-war Ontario
Hadenko, Mandy Lee
Master of Arts
Medical, moral & social implications (cervical cancer)
Development of cervical cancer prevention programs
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The history of cervical cancer has been a marginalised and neglected facet of medical history in Canada. My thesis examines changing understandings of the disease over the past 100 years, and, in particular, the rising incidence of cervical cancer and the lack of effective screening, primarily in Canada but also in the United States and the United Kingdom. While tracing the technological advances in screening for cervical cancer is important, there is more of a social aspect to this history that needs to be investigated. Attitudes about women, their health, and their lifestyles play an integral part in the historical development of the medical understanding of this disease. While screening programs have been organized internationally, including Canada, these vital services are still not reaching all women. Health Canada states that up to “ 15% of women have never been screened; 30% haven’t been screened in the last 3 years...[and] the 5-year survival rate is only 74%.”' By rediscovering the past medical constructions of the disease and tracing the development of screening programs on an international level, a clearer understanding of the problems plaguing programs today may be achieved.
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