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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

On 24th October a packed audience gathered at the McCrum lecture theatre in the heart of Cambridge to attend the Festival of Ideas event "Is earlier necessarily better?" To our knowledge this was the first ever cancer-themed event to feature in the Festival of Ideas, which generally focuses more on the arts and social sciences. The premise of the event was to explore the wider, societal issues surrounding cancer screening (legal, psychological, social, economic, philosophical). This is an under-researched area and the Early Detection Programme is currently planning to commence some work in this arena.

Organised by the Early Detection Programme, with whom the LML has collaborated this year, the Festival of Ideas event featured a panel of seven experts from across the academic disciplines including law, history and philosophy of science, radiology, cancer genetics and surgery. Expertly chaired by cancer geneticist Prof Sir Bruce Ponder, the panel and audience were inspired to discussion using clips from the BBC Horizon programme episode entitled Are health tests really a good idea? The audience posed some interesting and well-informed questions and comments, and the feedback, both on the theme and the format of the event, has been extremely positive.