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Books, Journals, New Media
September 18, 2002

Breast Cancer, HistoryBathsheba's Breast: Women, Cancer and History

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2002;288(11):1413-1414. doi:10.1001/jama.288.11.1413-JBK0918-4-1

In 1811, Fanny Burney, a prominent English author who achieved major renown in the literary circles of the 18th century, had a mastectomy. In the era before anesthesia or antisepsis, such surgery was a dreaded and unimaginable ordeal. In her diary, Burney described "a scream that lasted during the whole time of the incision" and a "marvel that it rings not in my ears still." The agony of breast cancer has been experienced for millennia and rings still in the ears of women and their families throughout the world.

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