University of Pittsburgh
Combined Clinical Years

Neoplasia & Neoplastic Disease (MED 5715)
MS-4

4 weeks

Course Director
Ahmad A. Tarhini, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
tarhiniaa@upmc.edu

 

Course Description

The overall goal of this multidisciplinary course is to present advances in basic and clinical cancer research and more importantly to stress emerging paradigms in which progress in basic science has had a significant impact in clinical decisions. Students will attend lectures, participate in journal clubs and Great Debate Series, and rotate through outpatient cancer clinics.

The lecture series will include the following general cancer topics: cancer as a multidisciplinary approach; mechanisms of cancer development, tumor resistance and evasion in relation to current and evolving cancer therapeutics; preclinical and clinical drug development - critical interpretation of the literature; clinical trial design; and quality of life, informed consent, and the ethical considerations of cancer trials.

The presentation of particular cancer entities is expected to cover two important aspects in modern oncology: first, the multidisciplinary approach to cancer; and, second, the ways by which advances in basic science research drive patient-oriented research and ultimately clinical decision making. Most cancer entities are expected to be presented by physician-scientists across different disciplines who may both treat patients and conduct patient-oriented research. The sites to be examined include:

Prostate Hematologic Malignancies GI/Colon Renal
Lung  Melanoma   Renal Cell Breast 

Lectures will be approximately 12 hours per week and are generally on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Student activities include participation in Journal Clubs, the Great Debate Series, and regular case presentation. During Journal Clubs, groups of 2–3 students are expected to present a series of 2–3 literature papers relating to a particular cancer topic. This will involve actual presentation, critical review of the paper, as well as leading group discussions. During the Great Debate Series a student group is required to take a position using at least 3–4 papers from the literature.  Groups will have 30 minutes to make their case, then the class will discuss alternative perspectives.

Students will rotate through different outpatient clinics and are expected to present new cases that will expose them to fundamentals of clinical decision making in cancer. Preceptors will be encouraged to give the students as much hands-on experience as possible. Students will also rotate as observers in morning rounds of several inpatient services available through the Department of Hematology/Oncology, such as the Hematology Inpatient, Medical Oncology Inpatient, Attending Service and Bone Marrow Transplant Service, and Hematology/Oncology Consult Service at Presbyterian/Montefiore Campus. Students also are required to attend several multidisciplinary special cancer tumor boards.

This course satisfies the Integrated Life Science requirement.

The goals of the course are:

  1. The student will be able to integrate in both directions basic science concepts and the clinical management of the cancer.
  2. Given a clinical protocol, the student will be able to evaluate the significance and ethical considerations of the experimental design.
  3. The student will be able to identify the challenges and define the current trends that confront clinicians/researchers in cancer.
  4. Given a patient with terminal cancer, the student will be able to examine both traditional and experimental treatment options, and  to consider quality of life issues.
  5. The student will be able to cite and analyze specific examples of how basic science observations have been translated from the laboratory to the clinic.
  6. Given a scientific journal article, the student will be able to review and analyze the experimental (clinical or basic) question to be addressed, the methodology utilized, the presentation of the results and the discussion and significance of conclusions to be reached.

Educational Methods

Journal club small group sessions Lectures Case presentation, discussion, and role playing    
Tumor boards Group project/debate series Participation in clinical activities (outpatient and, inpatient clinics, and consults)    

Students attend approximately 13 half-days of patient-care activities throughout the rotation. There are no on-call or weekend responsibilities. The course schedule spans five days each week.

Evaluation

Students will be evaluated as honors, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory on the basis of their participation in lectures and clinics, organization and presentation of a Journal Club or Great Debate Series, and written examination.