Cancer Registries as a Resource for Linking Bioethics and Environmental Ethics
The Executive Director of the Presidential Commission on BioEthics Issues, Dr. Lisa M. Lee, recently authored a call for a bridge between the fields of bioethics and environmental ethics that connects the ambitions of the past century to the practical needs and scientific potential of the present and future. PHI's Cancer Registry of Greater California (CRGC) was invited to submit an open peer commentary on her published article, which appears in the September edition of the American Journal of Bioethics.
CRGC's commentary, authored by Drs. Robert McLaughlin, Marta Induni, and Rosemary Cress, describes cancer registries as a common good that relates both to bioethics and to environmental ethics, and the science that cancer registries support as a field of possibility to realize Lee’s vision. They cite, for example, cancer research investigating environmental exposures and note how the power of molecular science to validate gene and protein targets relates simultaneously to individual cancer patients and to population-based health interests in service of whole communities.
The commentary includes practical considerations—the ethics of access to tissue samples, the balance between individual privacy rights and collective rights to the benefits of scientific and medical advancements, and core principles of human dignity and productive agency. These principles not only underline the Registry's work, but also provide critical connections between the intellectual trajectories of bioethics and environmental ethics for which Lee imagines a bridge and urges its construction.