A ‘battle’ or a ‘journey’? A large-scale study of metaphors for cancer


Session type:

Elena Semino1, Zsofia Demjen2, Jane Demmen1, Andrew Hardie1, Veronika Koller1, Sheila Payne1, Paul Rayson1
1Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK,2Open University, Milton Keynes, UK



Violence metaphors for cancer (including 'battle', 'fight', 'war') are used conventionally in English, but have been criticised for their potentially harmful consequences for patients. In recent policy documents in the UK (e.g. the NHS 2007 Cancer Reform Strategy), they have been avoided in favour of the notion of cancer as a 'journey' with clinical 'pathways' delineated as models of care.