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In this hour, scientists believe they have cracked the mystery of the malignant cell, and the first targeted therapies have been developed. By the second decade of the 2000s, the bewildering complexity of the cancer cell yields a more ordered picture, revealing new vulnerabilities and avenues of attack. Perhaps most exciting is the prospect of harnessing the human immune system to defeat cancer.
This hour picks up in the lab, as rapid progress is made in understanding the essential, genetic nature of the cancer cell. Not until the late 1990s do advances in research begin to translate into more precisely targeted therapies with breakthrough drugs. The film intertwines the emotional and physical struggles of a modern oncologist diagnosed with breast cancer with the historical narrative.
The search for a "cure" for cancer is the greatest epic in the history of science, spanning centuries and continents. This episode follows that centuries-long search, but centers on the story of Sidney Farber, who introduced the modern era of chemotherapy in the late 1940s. The film follows her as she and her parents struggle with the many hardships and decisions foisted upon a cancer patient.
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- Premiered: March 30, 2014
- Rating: TV-14
- Premise: The history of cancer, from its first documented appearance thousands of years ago to the present. Also: scientific breakthroughs that have put a cure within reach. (more)