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By Sahra Gibbon

The booklet examines the social and cultural context of recent genetic wisdom linked to breast melanoma. It appears to be like at how this information and applied sciences are used and obtained in contrasting social arenas - melanoma genetic clinics and a breast melanoma examine charity.

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Example text

It actually makes me not want to check myself more. I know it’s not logical but the fear is that this will be the time that you will find something. So that’s why I asked to be checked by the nurses, so at least then you know I have someone doing it thoroughly. Like Chloe, others felt distrustful not only of their own ability to examine their breasts but, because of what had happened to their relatives, also of the utility of doing so. As Jane pointed out: The thing is my Nan’s, when her lump was big enough to get worried about it, it was too late anyway and my mum she felt a little tiny one, but she had little growths and they were deep seated.

By contrast, the cancer genetic clinic at the large general teaching hospital, where I also carried out a somewhat smaller piece of research, has evolved in a different way. Paralleling in many ways the history of the UK genetic services outlined by Coventry and Pickstone (1999), the clinic is a relatively recent but growing addition to a larger regional genetics unit. Here clinical management, laboratory research and diagnostic testing have long been linked in addressing what had, until the mid to late 1990s, been mostly a wide range of somewhat rarer single gene or monogenetic conditions.

Until mum got the breast cancer we never really realised quite the link, that this is something that is going to happen again and again, pick one miss one that sort of thing simply because my mum’s Nan died. Here it seemed that the religious beliefs of Jane’s father had served as a background for the growing feeling of genetic fate that fed and informed her feeling that there was a risk in the family. The desire, by many of those attending the clinics, to objectify or identify with having a genetic risk of breast cancer is striking.

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