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March 30, 2015

Ken Burns Present Cancer - The Emperor of All Maladies; March 30, 31, April 1, 9pm WVIZ/PBS

This is the week to start watching.

Today is the first broadcast of the PBS documentary by Ken Burns Cancer- The Emperor of all Maladies.  It is worth your time and your thoughts.

Everyone in this newsletters' mailing list cares about efforts to understand, diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer. These issues will be front and center in the public mind more so than at any time since Nixon declared the NCI "War on Cancer" in 1973.

I participated in a preview of this series last week at Ideastream along with Anne Lederman Flamm - Cleveland Clinic Bioethics Department, Barbara Daly - CWRU School of Nursing, Dr. Chirag Shah - Summa Health oncologist, and Angelo Merendino - a photographer who captured his wife's battle with cancer.   We commented on the ethics of cancer diagnosis and treatment - how to inform, when to stop treatment, whether informed consent is possible, whether our sometimes desperate treatments (major surgery, stem cell transplantation) make sense, and whether we can prepare patients for them.

In the preview the documentary is quite riveting. While most will not be able to identify the voice of the various principles of the past 30 years who have led the field the way I was able to, all will appreciate the intensity of effort. It brought home how tough an effort this has been including the logic of the approach, the countless frustrations, and the ever increasing sophistication of the research.

I would expect that our community of friends will have a visceral reaction and that it will spur discussion on our collective next steps.  I expect that there will be discussion around better efforts, more research funding and increased attention to cancer research.

There may also be some sense of how overwhelming the effort is.

So to be informed and ready for the conversation, I encourage you to watch and reflect. It is our efforts that will bring the next advances and improvements. And our community is waiting.