Research

How Cancer Crossed the Color Line

How Cancer Crossed the Color Line

February 2011
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press; ISBN: 0195170172

Examining a century of twists and turns in anti-cancer campaigns, this path-breaking study shows how American cancer awareness, prevention, treatment, and survival have been refracted through the lens of race. As cancer went from being a white woman's nemesis to a "democratic disease" to a fearsome threat in communities of color, experts and the lay public interpreted these trends as lessons about women, men, and the color line. Drawing on film and fiction, on medical and epidemiological evidence, and on patients' accounts, Keith Wailoo tracks cancer's transformation--how theories of risk evolved with changes in women's roles and African-American and new immigrant migration trends, with the growth of federal cancer surveillance, economic depression and world war, and with diagnostic advances, racial protest, and contemporary health activism. A pioneering study of health communication in America, the book skillfully documents how race and gender became central motifs in the birth of cancer awareness, how patterns and perceptions changed, and how the "war on cancer" continues to be waged along the color line.