EXPO. Cité des Sciences breaks the cancer taboo – Sciences et Avenir

The bet was risky. To provide an understanding of all aspects of a disease with multiple consequences that is difficult to talk about even today. However, 3.8 million French people are stigmatized because they have lived or are living today with cancer. Red wire? Break the taboos associated with this disease by awakening all the areas that it upsets in its path. In the buried atmosphere of the exhibition, there is also no imposed scheme, no manipulations and workshops. Cité des Sciences, in partnership with INSERM and INCa, abandons his habits and fully adapts to the complexity of the subject he has chosen to work on. The organization in thematic poles, separated from each other, allows the visitor to choose both the order and the subjects to which he wants to address, according to his sensibility and his experience.

From science to perception

The exhibition accurately and accurately reflects the biological characteristics of cancer cells, as well as the psychological explosion that results from a diagnosis. Thus, five axes are deflected, from the dynamism of research to the perception of cancer by society, through various traditional or innovative treatments. Video reviews reflect the emotional experiences of patients and their relatives, but are rarely used. Questions arise from it, including ways of thought. The positive prognosis is also finding its place, as a recent study shows an improvement in survival rates for a large number of cancers.

One of the successes of this exhibition? Pole dedicated to research. You will have the opportunity of exciting virtual meetings with researchers. Cité des Sciences has chosen to showcase a wide range of innovative research areas. Each scientist reveals the context and interests of their work and discoveries. In particular, we will learn that if today the search for tumor cells is carried out by detecting glucose, which they need in large quantities, another potentially more effective method appears. The researchers are based on the number of fibroblasts, cells originally useful for healing but used by tumor cells and therefore more numerous in tumors.

“Cancer exists outside of us”

The essence of the exhibition is to make cancer an evolutionary process “existing outside of us”, since this disease appeared 500 million years ago. Thus, the size challenge was to “relocate affects, emotions, and fears”. So, for example, evolutionary processes are highlighted that allowed some animals to protect themselves from cancer. The exhibition’s preamble sets the tone for Darwin’s vision: “Cancer is a living being subject to the same rules as we are,” in particular dependence on sources of energy and blood supply.

Medical imaging that allows cancer to be diagnosed is often an added worry for patients. Credit: Romain Moretto

The exhibition is interspersed with original artwork illustrating, for example, the many images of cancer detection and diagnosis often causing anxiety in patients, or the support provided by “supportive therapy” such as art therapy, social professional support or adapted sports activities. Under the soft light, we walk, listen to a few bits of life, and also discover other aspects of this disease that we sometimes encounter without even knowing it. The Crayfish exhibition finds a balance between scientific explanation, psychological and social problems. It raises issues of paramount importance that are often ignored, such as the perception of cancer in the world of work or the influence of socioeconomic factors on the development of this disease.

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