What is the most frightening word in the language? Today’s subject is cancer. The lives of almost all of us will have been touched one way or another by this disease as it affects us, our family or friends. Despite the vast amounts of money spent on cancer research, its nature and its causes are far from fully understood, though it is believed that more than 90% of the factors that produce cancer are environmental – things like air quality and diet – and less than 10% are genetic. Cancer is not only a physical condition, but also a big idea, and one of the scariest things about it is its insidious secret campaign to invade the body. Cancer is the number one killer disease in Hong Kong, and this appears to be the norm in more affluent societies as other mortal diseases are brought more under control. The good news is that many more people than before now survive cancer, and the fight against it is going on all around us, in cancer research and prevention, palliative medicine, patient care and support, and in the courageous lives of individual sufferers and their families.
In conversation with Douglas Kerr this week are Dr Polly Cheung Suk-Yee, a surgeon specializing in breast cancer and founder in 2005 of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation, and Dr Harpal Kumar, a research scientist who has been since 2007 the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK. 23-11-2013