ChatGPT Can Answer Cancer Questions, But Clinician Input Still Vital

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The use of ChatGPT (an artificial intelligence platform) tended to produce reliable cancer-related information in most circumstances, but patient-provider communication is still key, an expert said.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms like ChatGPT may be beneficial in helping patients with cancer learn more about their disease, but it is crucial that individuals still discuss what they read online with their health care team, explained Dr. Yee Hui, a clinical fellow at Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology.

“(ChatGPT) is actually quite good in terms of basic knowledge, diagnosis and treatment (information) for liver cancer. Some of the side effects and things that are most concerning for families — like lifespan survival and the effectiveness and complications of a specific treatment — it could provide details on,” Hui said in an interview with CURE®.

ChatGPT is an online tool where people can type in questions or prompts, and then the AI platform will generate answers. In his personal life, Hui said that he uses ChatGPT to generate nighttime stories for his 2-year-old child that focus on a subject of their choice.

However, when it comes to medical information that could be life or death, the stakes for better output are far higher. “When it comes to medicine, it has to be really precise and validated by physicians before it can be trusted,” Hui said.

ChatGPT to Answer Cancer Questions

So, Hui and his team recently conducted a comprehensive evaluation of ChatGPT’s accuracy when it came to information on liver cancer and cirrhosis.

They first went through Facebook patient support groups and trustworthy websites — such as the Mayo Clinic, Cedars Sinai, Harvard and the Centers for Disease Control — to come up with a list of 164 of the most common patient and caregiver questions about the disease. They then turned guidelines about the disease into questions that were also run through ChatGPT.

Once the questions were answered by ChatGPT, a hepatologist (liver specialist) reviewed the answers and graded them based on how accurate the AI-generated answers were.

While approximately 75% of the questions were answered with reliable information, the information regarding treatment recommendations or the use of active surveillance did not always align with United States guidelines. According to Hui, this could be because different countries have different treatment recommendations, and even different leading causes of liver cancer. For example, in Asia-Pacific, the most common cause of liver disease tends to be hepatitis B, while in the United States, it’s hepatitis C and alcohol use.

Hui was pleasantly surprised at the caregiver questions about how to best support a loved one with cancer.

“(ChatGPT) addressed many different points like helping patients with their physical health, mental health and lifestyle modification. Then by the end, it also reminded the caregiver themselves to take care of themselves…I think those are quite actionable,” Hui said. “For some of the tough questions we have, for example, like, ‘A family member just got denied for a liver transplant, how can we cope with the situation?’ ChatGPT was able to give a really good explanation of why this is happening and how to deal with that situation.”

Discuss Answers With Clinicians

While Hui predicted that AI’s accuracy will continue to improve over time, he emphasized that it is still important that patients discuss what they find on ChatGPT and other platforms with their health care team.

We asked our audience how the use of AI makes them feel about the future of cancer care.

We asked our audience how the use of AI makes them feel about the future of cancer care.

“We think that this can be a jumping off tool, even with ChatGPT 4 — the newest version (of the program), but we want every response to be validated.” he said. “My advice would be to use ChatGPT, but then take it to your health care provider so that they can look it over and make sure the data is correct.”

Some patients agree. In a recent #CUREConnect question, CURE® asked our social media audience, “How does the use of artificial intelligence make you feel about the future of cancer care?”

Lynn M. responded via Instagram, “Technology is great, but I still want a caring and experienced human doctor on my side.”

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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