First, a brief outline of the literary and social context attempts to answer questions concerning the production and reception of this 'cancer literature'. The following thematic analysis examines the role of cancer as a signifier. It shows that endo- and exogenic conceptions of the disease are present, and that mood changes of the afflicted person determine the meanings that are attributed to it. The ways cancer affects the social and bodily identity and different aspects of treatment are analyzed next. Finally, a chapter is devoted to the aesthetics of cancer, examining the metaphors used to describe the disease and the rhetorical means to represent the anxiety that accompanies it.