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Cracking Cancer (2017)

Judith Pyke’s documentary, which was originally presented as an episode on the long-running CBC Television series The Nature of Things, highlights the groundbreaking research conducted by the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver on Personalized OncoGenomics (POG), an experimental treatment for individuals with incurable cancer.

The POG trials compares the patients’ normal DNA with that of their tumors, with the goal of isolating the genetic mutations that create the cancers. The resulting treatments deviate from the one-size-fits-all approach to medical care by offering a variety of therapies unique to each patient. In some cases, patients are provided with non-cancer drugs – one is given diabetes medication, another receives pills normally used for lowering high blood pressure – as part of their overall cancer fighting regimen. One patient, a young boy with non-cancerous Neurofibromatosis, is also part of the POG trials.

The results are, at best, mixed with some patients responding vibrantly to this approach while others are only able to buy a limited amount of time before succumbing to their diseases. On-screen narrator David Suzuki does an admirable job in boiling down complicated medical terminology and genomic theories into a comprehensible summary of the POG strategies and desired goals, and the patients in this clinical study provide courageous and articulate commentary on their respective fights for life.

This fascinating production offers an invaluable understanding into ongoing cancer research, and it deserves to be seen by both medical professionals and any person with a loved one who is fighting cancer.