Public Lecture

The Centre for Science and Philosophy and the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science co-hosted a Public Lecture entitled ‘Why Precision Medicine is not Very Precise (and why this should not surprise us)’. There was a talk by Professor Anya Plutynski, followed by a panel discussion with Dr Karoline Wiesner , Dr James Brennan and Heidi LoughlinDr Julian Baggini acted as Chair.



Precision medicine has created a lot of hope, especially for cancer patients. In the ideal case, there is one comprehensive test provided to patients, a clear-cut prognosis, one clearly preferred targeted therapy, and outcomes will be ideal. Plutynski argued that in the vast majority of cases, what we actually find, and indeed ought to expect, are rather different outcomes. Decisions about treatment are complex, there are moderate improvements in survival in the vast majority of cases, and indeed, very few cancer patients are likely to benefit. This talk explained why this is true, and why this should (by now) not surprise us. Plutynski then offered advice for patients and families, and for researchers and policy makers, to ensure better communication about this difficult process.


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