Educating Undergraduate Medical Students About Oncology: A Literature Review

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This article is a review of the literature regarding teaching oncology to undergraduate medical students.


MEDLINE, Psychinfo, ERIC, TIMELIT, EMBASE, CINAHL and the Cochrane CENTRAL Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched, using the search terms cancer, oncology, education, undergraduate, and teaching.


The main findings can be summarized as follows: the involvement of patients in teaching is popular with students and portfolio learning is a successful way of involving patients; the use of standardized patients to teach breast examination improves students' performance in clinical assessment; the use of silicone models to teach breast examination improves students' sensitivity for detecting breast lumps; computer aided learning modules have a role, but are not superior to other types of learning; learning about cancer screening and prevention increases students' knowledge, improves their self rated skills, and changes their behavior; and cancer patients have an important role to play in teaching undergraduate communication skills.


We have found 48 articles on undergraduate teaching in oncology. Oncology teachers should consider adopting the evidence based approaches outlined in this review, and there should be more emphasis on educational research within the field of oncology.

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