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By Sahra Gibbon

The booklet examines the social and cultural context of latest genetic wisdom linked to breast melanoma. It seems to be at how this information and applied sciences are used and acquired in contrasting social arenas - melanoma genetic clinics and a breast melanoma study charity.

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Extra resources for Breast cancer genes and the gendering of knowledge : science and citizenship in the cultural context of the "new" genetics

Sample text

In general, when there were several cases of breast cancer in the family, those I talked to were inclined to think that it was unlikely to be just a ‘coincidence’. Genes provided a comprehensible, plausible and rational explanation for the cases of cancer in the family. This was brought home during my meeting with Donna after she talked about and then, after prompting from me, drew her family history. Donna: It’s so weird my Nan’s sister is still alive, she was ninety last year. She’s got all my mum’s cousins they’re all fine.

I mean I know someone who’s done it, they actually had a mastectomy then had their boobs re-built at the same time. To them they’ve taken away their risk of breast cancer. It seems fairly logical way round of doing it to me. I really feel like if I need to do something about it I’ll go and have it, just to get rid of the risk. Although there was a sense of flippancy about Deborah’s discussion of ‘boob jobs’, like Faye’s of-the-cuff remark, their comments seemed to disguise a deeper set of concerns about the risk of developing breast cancer.

In the same way that, as Palladino points out, patients have been ‘constitutive figures’ in the emergence of another arena of genetic medicine (2002), this chapter has illustrated the extent to which the expectations and actions of patients also inform clinical breast cancer genetics. Whatever the particular configuration of agency and power that lead or impel individuals to seek an appointment, there is clearly a heightened expectation about the scope of this field of health care practice. The next chapter, exploring the technologies and material practices of the clinic, shows how such expectations have diverse implications in the social dynamics of health care encounters.

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