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Catching Cancer (ATOM Study Guide)

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One in three of us will get cancer at some stage in our lives. From the moment of diagnosis, the common cry is, 'why me?' We blame our genes, our environment and our lifestyle, but could we be overlooking another crucial cause of cancer?

In Australia, a mysterious cancer cluster has led to an unusual investigation. Sixteen women working in one workplace have developed breast cancer. The majority are young, none have a family history of the disease and no environmental cause has been found for the illness. A team of scientists has begun to investigate if the cause could be a virus. It is a controversial idea, with extraordinary implications.

In the United States, researchers are hunting a virus that triggers breast cancer in mice and asking, could it spread to people?

In the United Kingdom, childhood leukaemia is under the microscope and infection is the prime suspect.

Twenty per cent of all cancers worldwide are caused by infections. Now, across the planet, new evidence is emerging that links viruses and bacteria to an increasing number of cancers. Should we be worried? Does this mean we could all 'catch' cancer?

In Germany, clever detective work by Prof Harald zur Hausen solved the deadly riddle of viruses causing cervical cancer and, in 2008, won him a Nobel Prize.

In the beautiful islands of Vanuatu, a medical revolution is underway – the roll-out of the world's first vaccine specifically engineered to stop a cancer.

Featuring world experts, Nobel Laureates and virus hunters on the front line, Catching Cancer is a fast-paced investigation of a provocative idea. Voyaging deep into the mysterious cellular world of cancer, the film demonstrates how cancer begins and what factors rig the 'cancer lottery's' lethal odds. Combining intimate personal stories and intriguing science, Catching Cancer reveals how finding a hidden trigger, such as a virus, is not a reason to panic; it's a reason to celebrate.

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