Cancer – Setbacks And Advances Discussed

Ken Burns along with Siddhartha Mukherjee teams up to bring out the 6-hour documentary called “Cancer- the Emperor of All Maladies”. Here the setbacks as well as advances of the dreaded illness are discussed. Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of the famous book “The Emperor of All Maladies”.

Dr. Sidney Farber is known as the father of chemotherapy which is considered as the ultimate treatment of Cancer. Cancer has a lot of mysteries. Fear is the primary feeling of the disease. The word Cancer sends a tremor through us, and a person who discovers he has Cancer dies many deaths the moment he realizes it. The PBS tries to throw light on the different aspects of Cancer through the documentary.

According to Ken Burns people act mysterious or are not open to each other about Cancer, while issues like heart problems and diabetes are addressed openly, without reserve. Cancer creates fear and builds up a kind of resistance. The documentary is produced by Ken Burns and the director is Barak Goodman. Ken Burns has first hand experience with the dreaded illness because his mother was a cancer victim who passed away when he was only 11 years old.


Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize awarded book of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, which also has the same title, begins to analyze cancer at its base, like how the disease got its name, to the advances as well as setbacks occurred in research for the past years. The book speaks about the development of cancer, its treatment and the developments in the field of treatment, ever since the publication of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book in 2010.

In 1970, it was established that the mutations of the cell can be boosted by genetic, a virus or environment. Many of the treatments that we believed in were found to be not so successful. The film talks at length about immunotherapy, that is, using an individual’s immune system to fight against cancer cells, but it is not mentioned in Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book.

cancer patient kidThe makers of the film had to treat the subject with great caution because cancer has moments of optimum optimism and crashing disillusionment. The doctors are often pushed by patients. Mastectomy had to face much ridicule before it was accepted. Cigarette smoking is very much linked with cancer, as the Surgeon General report 1960 reveals.

The CEO of PBS Sharon Rockefeller and the cofounder of ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ decide to make the book into a film. Sharon Rockefeller suffered from Colon cancer. Sure, the documentary will become outdated as new researches and findings come to light.

The creators of the film hope that their work will motivate more scientists and researchers to excel in their work and throw more light on the dreaded disease.