UCLA Cancer Survivorship


Introduction

During the past two decades there have been enormous advances in understanding the causes of cancer, including the interaction of environmental, genetic, molecular, and infectious factors. Epidemiologic studies have identified at-risk behaviors. Cancer control and risk reduction strategies are now acknowledged as essential competencies for primary care physicians. Nutrition, exercise, stress-control, and complementary medicine have widened the range of therapeutic and preventive resources available to health care professionals and patients. At the same time, advances in therapeutics and screening have resulted in a growing body of persons who live with cancer as a chronic disease. At the David Geffen School of Medicine, we have been working to increase the range of cancer education available to our medical students beyond the traditional focus on diagnosis and treatment.

LuAnn Wilkerson, Ed.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Purpose

With funding from the National Cancer Institute for the past 8 years (R-25 CA73914 and R-25 CA96975), faculty members from The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have worked with colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco and the Drew University of Medicine and Science to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate resources for teaching about cancer prevention and cancer survivorship to medical students. Most of these materials are case-based and include a range of teaching materials from standardized patient scripts to computer simulations. The expertise of cancer control specialists, oncologists, generalists, epidemiologists, and professional educators have been used in the production of these instructional modules. We believe that many of these modules can be easily adapted for the education of other health professions students and to residents in multiple specialties. There may also be applicability to continuing education.

This site describes the learning objectives and teaching materials that we have developed to date.

Cancer Survivorship

At the beginning of the 21st century, more than half of individuals already diagnosed with cancer can be expected to survive for more than 5 years, and for some types of tumors survival exceeds 75%. These survival gains have occurred due to more complex and multi-modal therapies and promise to increase with the growth of genomic interventions. Health care providers must be familiar with the late effects of cancer treatment and be able to offer preventive care and health promotion strategies to this patient population. While medical schools have traditionally focused on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and more recently on its prevention, few, if any, have focused on the long-term care of cancer as a chronic disease.

The overall goal of the Cancer as A Chronic Disease grant (R25 CA096075, 2002 - 2007) is to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a coordinated, four-year, multi-disciplinary medical school curriculum on cancer as a chronic disease. Cancers with increasing survival rates that provide a focus for these modules are CML, childhood cancers, breast, prostate, colorectal, and reproductive. Objectives for medical student education were developed by a panel of experts from oncology, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, urology, epidemiology, and education.