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Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer [Hardcover]

Rebecca Dresser
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2, 2012 0199757844 978-0199757848 1
"You have cancer." Words no one wants to hear, but heard by millions every year. Millions more hear the equally shattering news that a loved one has cancer. Both are life-changing messages.

For the people writing this book, cancer was not only a personal crisis, it was also an education. Experts on medical ethics, personal experience with cancer showed them how little they understood of the real world of serious illness. Despite years of teaching and writing about treatment decision-making and patient autonomy, they were unprepared for many of the problems they faced. They discovered that the rights and wrongs of cancer care were more complicated than they had anticipated. Ethics outside the hospital walls took on unexpected significance as they discovered the astonishing generosity, and the unintentional cruelty, that cancer provokes in others. Cancer was a test of personal character, too, as patients accustomed to control became dependent on others and caregivers shouldered unfamiliar and difficult responsibilities.

In chapters on cancer diagnosis, treatment choices, and research participation, the authors examine medical ethics from the personal point of view. In chapters on family caregiving, cancer interactions, and cancer support groups, they consider ethics outside the medical setting. In chapters on mortality and survivorship, they reflect on cancers personal moral teachings.

Cancer is an unavoidable feature of modern life. Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of what it is like to have cancer, better equipped to respond to cancer in their own lives and the lives of others. The book also offers insights to doctors and nurses seeking to improve cancer treatment and to medical ethicists seeking to make their work more relevant to patients and caregivers.

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Editorial Reviews


"Rebecca Dresser's idea for a book on cancer was an inspired one. In bringing together a group of people from the field of bioethics with personal experience of cancer, as survivors or caretakers, we see in moving detail what it is like to wrestle with the disease. It will offer those with cancer or caring for those with it uncommon insight and wisdom. If one has to think about or deal with the disease, one can hardly ask for more." - Daniel Callahan, The Hastings Center

"The authors in this volume have important things to say about sickness and medicine, from which we can all learn. If you had any question about whether sickness and medical care are fundamentally personal, related to who the sick person is, this readable and interesting book will drive that point home. At the same time, they show that the sick are never sick in isolation, but alongside others whose fates are intimately entwined. Intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful." --Eric Cassell, MD, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

"Dresser and her colleagues raise several challenging questions on the ethical and social dynamics of cancer care in the twenty-first century. In prose rich in scholarly contemplation, the book applies personal experiences to broaden the conversation of ethical health care for cancer patients. Most important, Malignant bears witness to a critical advance in oncology that may help both its practitioners and those stricken with the disease." -- Howard Markel, he George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan, The New Republic

"The book applies personal experiences to broaden the conversation of ethical health care for cancer patients. Most important, Malignant bears witness to a critical advance in oncology that may help both its practitioners and those stricken with the disease." -- Howard Markel, The New Republic

"Malignant has as its subtitle, Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer. They do but the conceptual weapons they know best how to use in their scholarly work prove very ineffective against this very personal opponent. If there is a confrontation in these pages it is one that cancer forces by requiring a close examination of each author's experience, relationships, hopes, disappointments, and limits." -- Arthur Caplan, The Lancet

"Medical practitioners and health sciences students will find this unique and moving book useful for understanding why patients act they way they do. It is an important addition for medical school libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners." -- A. W. Klink, Duke University, CHOICE

"There is much that can be learned from this collection of personal moments shared, reflective analyses, and narrative inquiry by patients, their families, health care providers,
and bioethicists. This work is an important contribution to bioethics and provides insights that would be helpful not only in the teaching of ethics to medical students but also
for clinical ethics, where decisions need to be made in difficult clinical situations and interaction with a patient is of paramount importance." -- The American Journal of Bioethics

About the Author

Rebecca Dresser is the Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law and Professor of Ethics in Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199757844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199757848
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise counsel from those who know July 15, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One may think this will be another dry, academic text loosely containing personal memoir from the ethicists involved. To be sure, each contributor lays bare their life experiences with cancer, some in very stark and haunting terms. The end result: a genuinely enriching read, with an ample amount of hope, and one that I will be sharing with family and friends. In fact, do yourself a favor and buy two copies at once, since after finishing this book, you will undoubtedly know someone else in your life who will benefit from its pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book about cancer February 7, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is written by people who studied ethical issues in cancer, but who learned the most about cancer when they themselves (or their spouses) were cancer patients. This book illuminates different issues that cancer patients face that health providers might not always be aware of. The personal stories make it very easy to read.
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