Commentary: Surviving Terrorist Cells

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The use of violent imagery, war metaphors, and the “survivor” persona in relation to cancer research and treatment are examined, as are consumer-driven approaches to “working toward a cure.” The authors ask, what are the cultural and environmental trade-offs of these types of rhetoric? The positions of good guys (survivors, researchers, consumers) versus the enemy (cancer) are critically evaluated. Of especial note is a recent print advertisement that, despite its arresting visual presence, delivers an exceedingly vague message. The authors conclude that the practice of medicine plays a pivotal role in these cultural determinations and that caricatured attributions of cellular violence ultimately divert critical attention from sustained scrutiny of the institutional, social, economic, and political processes that in fact may contribute to the forces that bear on causing cancer.

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