LKS Medical Faculty MEHU
Uninformed Consent: Doctors, Lying, and Cancer in Japan (31.3.2023)
Uninformed Consent: Doctors, Lying, and Cancer in Japan (31.3.2023)
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Uninformed Consent: Doctors, Lying, and Cancer in Japan (31.3.2023)

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Dear HKU Staff and Students,

The Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit is hosting a Conversations and Connections lunchtime seminar at March 31, 2023 and we hope you will join us for this special event!

MH Conversations and Connections Series – Lunchtime Seminar

Title: “Uninformed Consent: Doctors, Lying, and Cancer in Japan”

Is there ever a time that a doctor should deceive a patient about their disease? What happens when a patient’s family demands that the patient be kept in ignorance of their diagnosis? These questions are still relevant to cancer treatment in certain circumstances in contemporary Japan. Until the early 2000s, doctors routinely kept diagnoses of cancer from their patients. The widespread rationale was that the severity of a cancer diagnosis was too traumatic and patients would simply give up. Doctors often pursued treatment plans in consultation with family members. Over the last two decades, however, practices have changed. Informed consent for cancer diagnoses has become standard in the Japanese medical system. Nevertheless, there are still occasions when doctors will withhold information from patients who are cognitively sound. This talk examines the circumstances and choices that keep patients ignorant of their conditions. I contend that the practice of informed consent in Japan still takes into account the views of family members. In this frame, doctors and family members understand the patient as part of a family rather than an indivisible entity with autonomy.

Date: 31 March, 2023 (Friday)
Time: 12:00 – 1:15 pm

Venue: Mrs Chen Yang Foo Oi Telemedicine Centre, 2/F, William M. W. Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam
Mode: In-person and Zoom (Zoom link will be provided to registrants one day before the event)

* Refreshment will be provided for all registrants.

Dr Aaron Hames

Research Assistant Professor, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Faculty of Arts, The University of Hong Kong

Dr Hames is a medical anthropologist and a Research Assistant Professor in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the Faculty of Arts in The University of Hong Kong. His research examines how the elderly in Japan encounter an ageing society and work through cooperative medical organizations to meet their social and health needs.

Dr Zohar Lederman
Post-Doctoral Researcher, MEHU

Dr Lederman is an emergency medicine physician with a PhD in bioethics from the National University of Singapore. He researches several topics in bioethics including loneliness and One Health Ethics. His work has been published in the top bioethics journals including the Journal of Medical Ethics, Bioethics, and Public Health Ethics.

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Enquiry: Please contact Mr Deemo Mok (


Best regards,
Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit


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