New Documentary Explores History of Cancer

ad for the film "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies"

An original 6-hour documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies will air in three 2-hour segments March 30, 31 and April 1 on all PBS channels nationwide. The documentary will take a provocative look at the history, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. It is based on the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. The film’s executive producer is Ken Burns and its director is award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman.

  • Episode One – Magic Bullets (Monday, March 30, 9-11pm Eastern Time): This episode follows the history of the search for a cure for cancer by telling the stories of pediatric pathologist Sidney Farber, regarded as the father of modern chemotherapy, and 14-month-old cancer patient Olivia Blair.
  • Episode Two – The Blind Men and the Elephant (Tuesday, March 31, 9-11pm Eastern Time): This episode picks up the story of progress and frustration after President Richard Nixon declares a “war on cancer” in 1971. It tells the story of surgical oncologist Dr. Lori Wilson who is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and features American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis W. Brawley, MD, MPH explaining the role of the scientific method in developing new cancer treatments.
  • Episode Three – Finding the Achilles Heel (Wednesday, April 1, 9-11pm Eastern Time): This episode includes the development of new treatments including targeted therapies and immunotherapies, and tells the stories of cancer patients 60-year-old NASCAR mechanic Doug Rogers and 6-year-old Emily Whitehead.

The American Cancer Society joins other organizations in supporting the film and in helping to engage researchers, patients and the general public in a national conversation about cancer as a public health issue. In many cities across the US, the Society and local PBS stations are hosting special preview screenings of the film. Check with your local PBS station for more information.

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