Abstract

In 1984 the noted breast cancer activist Rose Kushner published a controversial article, "Is Aggressive Adjuvant Chemotherapy the Halsted Radical of the '80s?" In it, she argued that chemotherapy was being used as indiscriminately as the radical mastectomy had been, before she and others had successfully discredited the disfiguring operation. As with all of Kushner's writings, this article raised valid points in an informed and provocative style, but her attack on chemotherapy was more one-sided than was typical. This may have been due to the highly personal nature of the topic: when she was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer, she had declined chemotherapy in favor of a hormonal agent, tamoxifen. She also developed a close working and financial relationship with the manufacturers of tamoxifen. Although not seen as a problem at the time, Kushner's dual roles as patient and advocate for a particular treatment foreshadowed conflict-of-interest issues that would take center stage in medicine in subsequent decades.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3176
Print ISSN
0007-5140
Pages
pp. 224-240
Launched on MUSE
2007-03-15
Open Access
No
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