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A research study assistant slid the informed consent document for the clinical trial across the desk to us.

My wife, Ruth, sitting next to me, signed it. She was in treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where I am also a doctor and cancer researcher.

Ruth had flipped through page after page of the informed consent forms. They were peppered with frightening words like “death” and “cancer recurrence,” and caveats discussing horrifying reactions to the experimental treatment. I winced each time I saw a scary term go by.

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