Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 174–179 | Cite as

Impact of a 2-Week Oncology Placement on Medical Students’ Perception of Cancer

  • Jonathan Mayes
  • Simon Davies
  • Andrew Harris
  • Emma Wray
  • Graham G. Dark


Statistics show that more than one in two people born after 1960 in the UK will develop cancer during their lifetime. However, a 2013 study found that only 36 % of UK medical schools offer dedicated clinical teaching in oncology. The aim of this study was to assess the views of medical students on five domains of oncology before and after their first clinical placement, to assess the impact, and to obtain students’ views on the oncology curriculum. A 28-item questionnaire was developed to compare responses before and after the students’ first 2-week clinical placement, and impact was measured as a positive or negative deviation from a baseline response. Students were asked about their career intentions and to evaluate their received teaching. Thirty-six (80 %) students responded to the questionnaire. The largest areas of change were identified in students’ confidence in breaking bad news, recognising red flag symptoms, and awareness of the complications of cancer management. Following their placement, 19 students said they would consider a career in oncology, 14 said they would not, and 2 were undecided. Students stated that Maggie’s Centre, a patient support facility, was the most useful learning experience. The evidence demonstrates that all students should experience oncology in a variety of settings to aid their learning. Student feedback and perception can help to guide and shape medical teaching.


Undergraduate education Oncology Medical students 



The authors thank the students, doctors, and patients involved in providing teaching and feedback.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Newcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Medical Oncology and Cancer Education, Northern Centre for Cancer CareFreeman HospitalNewcastle upon TyneUK

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