Rethinking the ethics and epistemology of cancer detection

Principal Investigator: Dr Stephen John, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Funded by: CRUK Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme "implications for health, medicine and society arising from the early detection of cancer" awards 2017

This project will develop a framework for resolving the ethical and epistemological challenges raised by early detection. Specifically, it considers three issues: how we should define and measure "overdiagnosis"; how population-level data about cancer risk can be communicated to individuals in ways which allow them to make informed decisions; and how traditional norms of medical practice, such as "do no harm" can be operationalised in the assessment of screening programmes. Resolving these philosophically thorny problems is fundamental to constructing ethical, and hence publicly acceptable, early detection programmes.