Men, women, gender and cancer
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This paper argues for a gender relational approach in the context of cancer care bearing in mind that conceptual problems are intertwined with methodological approaches. Hitherto, research in the field of psycho-oncology has used a positivist methodology that separates sex from ‘gender’. Men’s and women’s biological difference dictates their sexual destiny. Moreover, adjustment to cancer is conceptualized as lying within the patient, usually women. A contextual framework of a person’s experience is negated. A ‘gender relational’ approach to cancer care underpins the ways in which people enter into a set of socially constructed relationships produced and reproduced through actions with each other and in institutions but never in a vacuum. It is suggested that, by using differing methodologies, such an approach will illuminate the similarities and differences within and between men and women with cancer. It may also help to demystify the conceptual stance that often pathologizes and medicalizes people, especially women, as has been the case in mainstream research. This will pave the way for a clearer understanding of how patients experience cancer in terms of gender and how medical institutions may be contributing to that experience as they too, gender their practice.
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EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CANCER CARE, 2002, 11 pp. 166 - 172