Discourses of normality and difference: Responses to diagnosis and treatment of gynaecological cancer of Australian women

Natalie Wray, Milica Markovic, Lenore Hilda Manderson

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45 Citations (Scopus)


By comparison to other cancers such as breast and lung cancer, women in Australia are relatively infrequently diagnosed with gynaecological cancers. Apart from cervical cancer, public health information on gynaecological cancer is limited, as are published stories from gynaecological cancer survivors in women s magazines. Our qualitative study investigated how women with gynaecological cancers develop an identity in relation to their illness, and examined the extent of, and reasons for, a sense of perceived difference. The study was conducted between 2001 and 2003 and included in-depth interviews with 52 women aged 27-80 years diagnosed with gynaecological cancer within the past 5 years. Our analysis illustrates how women draw on a wider cancer discourse to make sense of their own illness, which gave them a sense of commonality. However, some women, predominantly those who were diagnosed with cancer of the vulva or vagina, or who underwent particular uncommon or unfamiliar treatments such as brachytherapy, had difficulties situating their illness within the wider cancer discourse. This had implications for women when accessing social support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2260 - 2271
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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