Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Beauty without the Breast

Beauty without the Breast

Felicia Marie Knaul

ISBN 9780982914410

Publication date: 01/14/2013

Felicia Knaul, an economist who has lived and worked for two decades in Latin America on health and social development, documents the personal and professional sides of her breast cancer experience. Beauty without the Breast contrasts her difficult but inspiring journey with that of the majority of women throughout the world who face not only the disease but stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to health care. This wrenching contrast is the cancer divide—an equity imperative in global health.

Knaul exposes barriers affecting women in low and middle-income countries and highlights the role of men, family, and community in responding to the challenge of breast cancer. She shares striking data about breast cancer, a leading killer of young women in developing countries, and narrates the process of applying this evidence and launching Tómatelo a Pecho (also the book title in Spanish)—a Mexico-based program promoting awareness and access to health care. The book concludes with letters from Dr. Julio Frenk, her husband and former Minister of Health of Mexico, written while they shared the trauma of diagnosis and treatment. With force and lucidity, the book narrates the journey of patient and family as they courageously navigate disease and survivorship.


  • From the perspective of a patient, Knaul’s book Beauty without the Breast is an intimate and detailed account of her life with breast cancer… From the perspective of a health economist, Knaul wants Beauty without the Breast to encourage people to think about how an individual with a chronic illness moves through a health system… Beauty without the Breast made me aware of, and angry about, the inequities in diagnosis and treatment encountered by many women with breast cancer who live in developing countries.

    —Farhat Yaqub, The Lancet


  • Felicia Marie Knaul, Ph.D., is Director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Economist at the Mexican Health Foundation. She is also the founder of Cáncer de mama: Tómatelo a Pecho.
  • Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., is Kolokotrones University Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Editor-in-Chief of Health and Human Rights: An International Journal.
  • Julie R. Gralow, M.D., is Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Director of Breast Medical Oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
  • Julio Frenk is President of the University of Miami. He is also the former Minister of Health of Mexico.

Book Details

  • 410 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University
  • Foreword by Paul Farmer and Julie R. Gralow
  • Epilogue by Julio Frenk

From this author