As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent in cancer care, oncologists are encountering new ethical dilemmas. Currently, AI is mainly utilized as a diagnostic aid, helping to detect tumor cells in pathology slides and identify tumors in X-rays and other radiological images. However, emerging AI models that can evaluate a patient’s prognosis and potentially suggest treatment options are under development. This advancement raises significant legal questions regarding accountability if an AI-suggested treatment leads to adverse outcomes for a patient.

A recent survey conducted by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and published in JAMA Network Open on March 28, 2024, reveals insights from over 200 U.S. oncologists on the responsible use of AI in their field. Key findings of this study include:

  • Understanding and Consent: 85% of oncologists believe they should understand how AI models function, yet only 23% think patients need the same depth of understanding. However, 81% agree that patient consent is essential when AI aids treatment decisions.
  • Decision-Making: When AI suggests a different treatment than the oncologist, 37% would offer both choices to the patient, highlighting the value of shared decision-making.
  • Responsibility: A significant 91% of oncologists think AI developers should be accountable for medical or legal issues arising from AI use, far exceeding those who believe responsibility should also involve physicians (47%) or hospitals (43%).
  • Bias Protection: While 76% of respondents recognize the need to shield patients from biased AI tools, only 28% feel confident in their ability to detect such biases.

The study underscores the importance of involving oncologists in discussions about AI’s ethical implications and future roles in cancer care, especially as AI’s applications, such as in diagnosis and potentially treatment recommendations, continue to evolve. This research initiates critical conversations on how AI should be ethically integrated into cancer treatment, ensuring it aligns with patient care standards and legal responsibilities.


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Written by the digital marketing team at Creative Programs & Systems:

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