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Breast cancer: an artistic view

Medicine and art have long had a close connection. In fact, the practice of medicine in previous centuries was mostly considered to be art. Conversely, the study of human anatomy in the renaissance period was an essential component of an artist's training, as exemplified by the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci. In this article, how disease—specifically breast cancer—has influenced art and vice versa will be discussed.

Breast cancer is an emotive cancer; it is a disease that affects a visible sexual organ and is the commonest single cause of death of women between 40 and 60 years of age.

However, this type of cancer was infrequently depicted in historical art. In most of recorded history, cultural norms have dictated that the breast is unexposed to protect modesty; therefore, only a doctor or an artist painting nude models would have had the opportunity to see any clinical signs of breast cancer. Nonetheless, in the few pieces of art in which breast cancer has inadvertently been the subject of artistic creation, interpretations have been controversial.

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