Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews No Holds Barred

The fight is on: military metaphors for cancer may harm patients

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5155 (Published 15 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5155
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) wants people to “show us your fight face” by posting their selfies on Twitter to raise money for its “life-saving research to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.” In Glasgow, earlier this year, an advertising agency working for the Beatson Cancer Centre declared on billboards, “Be full of hope. Be courageous. Be ready to fight,” adding that it was “determined to beat cancer.”

CRUK says it has a “war chest”1 for research funding. Many patient-bloggers on its website describe “victories” over cancer. The charity describes research that “recruits viruses for cancer battle,” under the heading “Let’s beat cancer sooner.”2 The advertising agency for …

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