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Breast Cancer Meanings: Journeys Across Asia

Cynthia Chou, and
Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen

978 87 7694 241 0
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Publication date:
28 February 2018

Short description: 

• Offers compelling narratives and analysis on the breast cancer epidemic sweeping Asia.
• Explores the spectrum of breast cancer meanings in Asia to provide a nuanced picture of the disease and its effects.
• Focuses on how cultural and social relations shape the medical response to the disease.

Full description: 

Breast cancer is now the most common cancer among women in most Asian countries. Many lives are at stake. Even in places where state-of-the-art medical services are available, thousands of women in Asia are dying of the disease largely due to late presentation compared to women in most Western countries. While much progress has been made in Western medical science to treat breast cancer, it appears that there are significant socio-cultural considerations and contexts in Asia that limit the efficacy of Western-based health-care methods.

This volume presents conversations across Asia with breast cancer patients, their caregivers, doctors, traditional healers as well as just ordinary men and women – all on the subject of breast cancer meanings. Through the stories as told by local peoples in Asia about how they think and talk about breast cancer, as well as how they respond to the disease, insights on breast cancer meanings emerge. These offer new under-standings into how local contexts shape those meanings and life courses – and hopefully will help medical practitioners devise new strategies to combat the disease.


Cynthia Chou is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa, also holding the C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley Family Chair in Asian Studies. She is author or co-editor of several books including The Orang Suku Laut of Riau, Indonesia: The Inalienable Gift of Territory, Southeast Asian Studies: Debates and New Directions and Tribal Communities in the Malay World: Historical, Cultural and Social Perspectives.

Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen is a Post. Doc. researcher at the University of Copenhagen. She has worked as a social and medical anthropologist in Southeast Asia for more than 20 years, focusing on polygamy, gender and health. Publications include the books Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis and Elite Polygamy in Urban Malaysia (forthcoming).



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