The cancer puzzle: Patterns, paradoxes and personalities


Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne

The cancer puzzle: Patterns, paradoxes and personalities tells the story of cancer in Victoria. Through photographs, documents, medical equipment and personal reflections from patients, the exhibition looks at the early days of treatment, the pivotal moments of linking cause and effect and the development towards a therapeutic revolution.

Victoria has been at the forefront of cancer prevention in programs such as the reduction of tobacco consumption, public health campaigns around sun and UV protection, encouraging the uptake of screening through campaigns such as Slip, Slop Slap. Through the work of the Cancer Council, Victoria’s smoking rate is among the lowest in the developed world and first to initiate plain cigarette packaging, the impact of which can be seen from the Cancer Council cigarette packet collections on show.

Victoria also has a long history of using radiation to treat patients and leads the way with innovative technologies now featured in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The exhibition shows early examples of this technology from the Peter MacCallum Radiology Collection. Differing responses of individuals with cancer is also revealed through the art of contemporary artists who have cancer, sometimes in words and sometimes through their art.

Image: Plastic head shield, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Radiology collection