Posted by: dundeechest | January 5, 2010

Cancer Dundee – the place to ask questions and learn more

Welcome to Cancer Dundee.

Welcome to this website and blog aiming to widen cancer education for undergraduate medical students, and all those with an interest in Oncology, based from Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. All contributions are welcome.

Using the tabs above navigate through a wealth of Oncology presentations (“Resources”), topical news articles, student timetables, and use this blog to leave any burning Oncology questions. Click on words highlighted in red to read / see more.

There are also tutorials aimed at Registrars in Oncology, listed under Resources, plus useful ward guides for junior doctors. Please fell free to leave queries.

Student prizes also on offer – see blogroll and resources – 4 prizes between £200 and £600 and 10 bursaries!!!

Keep the questions coming!

Posted by: Florence | December 1, 2011

The story ends…but a new one begins!

The Cancer Dundee Blog is moving.

We are moving to a more internal affair, with Dundee University, with access limited to students for many of the presentations and secure information.

Thank you for all your support and interest over the months, and indeed now years. Please continue to read on at…..The new site

Thank you.

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

2nd in the series.

    Tutorial No 2: Pericardial Tamponade

Understanding the basic principles.

Pericardial Effusions

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

Video tutorials – a step forward!

Aiming to modernise the blog still further, I am starting a series of short tutorials on Oncology Emergencies.

The first is on Superior Vena Cava Obstruction. Let me know what you think.

SVCO listen in for an explanation.

Simple really!

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

Cancer survival – are we improving?

Today the BBC News reported the Macmillan Data on survival from different cancers, across England and Wales, over the last 40 years.

Some have improved enormously, others such as lung cancer and brain tumours, have hardly changed at all.

The biggest improvement has been seen in colon cancer – 17 fold improvement. Excellent.

Six different cancers have a median survival greater than 10 years. Great news.

But, still challenges lay ahead. Read the BBC web site, linked above, to get an overview.

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

Wise words from another Prof

    Professor F Carey, Professor of Histopathology in Ninewells Dundee, sets the ball rolling, and tells us a little about himself and gives a fascinating insight into pathology in Malawi.

Where did you train as an undergraduate, Professor Carey?

I trained at University College Cork obtaining the MB, BCh and BAO. BSc (Pathology).

Have you worked abroad?

I have never been employed outside of the UK and Ireland. However, I do lead a Scotland – Malawi Pathology link which has involved spending 2 brief periods working in the College of Medicine and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Blantyre Malawi. Malawi has 12 million people but only one pathologist. This has involved a very different exposure to undergraduate teaching and diagnostic work. The spectrum of disease is vastly different to my usual practice in Dundee. Cancer is a relatively rarer condition when compared to the western world and the spectrum of tumours is very different (lymphoma, cervical carcinoma, sarcoma, Schistosome related bladder cancer). Cancers of lung, breast and colon are much rarer. Patients present with advanced disease. For most people (the exception being children with lymphoma) chemotherapy and radiotherapy are not available so surgery is the only hope.
We are currently working to develop some postgraduate training, possibly linked to neighbouring Zambia.

Could you chose one piece of Art ( film / book / painting / play) you love and say why?

I would choose a musical gem – the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (1958). Widely and correctly rated as the best jazz album ever, it is a high point of 20th century music. It should be part of everyone’s life – just buy it!

What nugget of golden advice would you give to your juniors?

Always keep in mind how lucky you are to work in such an interesting job!

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

A Prof of Radiation Therapy….

Professor Alastair Munro, Professor of Radiation Oncology Ninewells Dundee, tells us what “Inspiration” means to him.

I have been asked to write about inspiration – about what has inspired this particular oncologist. So I start wondering about what inspiration is. I think I know, but then discover I don’t. Etymologically the word has to do with having been breathed into, as if I emerged from medical school as some formless lump of clay into which divinities breathed and, as a result of all this exhalation, I became what I am. This leaves me feeling like something out of Gulliver’s travels, an inflated pig’s bladder on a stick. Perhaps I would have been more comfortable with the word influence.

Inspiration can come from any source and it can come at any time and is most treasured when it is least expected. Our inspirations, in important and fundamental ways, make us who we are: not in a slavish imitative sort of way but more in a point-of-departure, assimilated, sort of way. It is our inspirations that help us to answer Montaigne’s epic question from the 16th century – How to Live?

Montaigne – philosopher of Life

Maybe one answer to the challenge I have been set would be to do what the Beatles did, and commission Peter Blake to create a collage of my heroes, heroines, and other influences and inspirations.

But Peter Blake is getting on in years and I could not afford his fees – he was paid £200 for the artwork. It would be boring just to list the people and things that I think may have inspired me so, instead of a list, here is a set of cryptic clues to the identities of some of my sources of inspiration:

The landscape around the site of Oppenheimer’s first big test

A man who went off to work for a prince but when he arrived back home found that his wife (and their newborn child) had died whilst he had been away

A man from the North Country who is on a never ending tour

A paratrooper who studied the effects of particles

A Vice Admiral’s son who was nicknamed the Pope

A dean of St Paul’s who deprecated an insular view

The man who built a sandwalk

A toff who changed his name to that of a Suffolk river

The man whose daughter’s death led to the foretelling of his own

Ultimately, as an oncologist, most of my inspiration has come from those who have taught me the most – the patients.

Two final pieces of advice:

Know your song well before you start singing

Remember that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Posted by: Florence | November 22, 2011

The Prof speaks.

Professor Anthony Chalmers, Chair of Clinical Oncology in Glasgow, gives us an insight in to his career, with some inspiring thoughts.

    Where did you train as an undergraduate Professor Chalmers?

I was lucky enough to do my undergraduate training in Oxford. I enjoyed the pre-clinical course, and somewhat reluctantly undertook an intercalated BSc because everybody did one. I purposely avoided doing a lab based project because at the time I had a major aversion to anything involving microscopes and attention to detail. I stayed in Oxford for the clinical course and in retrospect would say that was the hardest part of my career so far. I didn’t cope very well with being a perpetual spare part and the lack of a defined role. So if you’re not enjoying your clinical training….. it gets better!

    What is your present position / role?

My current role is Chair of Clinical Oncology in Glasgow. It’s a fantastic position that combines a very well defined clinical practice (treating brain tumours) with running a lab that investigates novel ways of increasing the effectiveness of radiotherapy by interfering with DNA repair in tumour cells. I’m also responsible for developing radiotherapy research in Glasgow – this is perhaps the most challenging part of the job but it has brought me into contact with a huge number of interesting and talented clinicians, physicist, radiographers and scientists who have a huge amount to offer. I’m feeling a real sense of opportunity and excitement that is incredibly motivating.

    Have you worked abroad? If so what was your interest there?

I took a year off after passing MRCP and went to Los Angeles where I worked in a lab in UCLA. It was a useful taste of basic science and I enjoyed the independence, the absence of on-call and the opportunity to observe a very different way of practising medicine. As well as enjoying the LA lifestyle I learned some valuable lessons: (1) I never want to practice clinical medicine in the US system, (2) perhaps I could enjoy an academic career, (3) there are other ways to live and work than the British way and (4) how to rollerblade. Oh, and my research project there was investigating how integrin expression could influence trafficking of lymphocyte subsets around the body. Although I didn’t get very far during the year, it was an interesting insight into a process that might have significance in a variety of disease states including inflammatory bowel disease and HIV.

    What do you consider to be the most exciting development in your field at present?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the most exciting development in radiation oncology is the potential benefits to patients of combining radiotherapy with drugs that inhibit DNA repair. In particular there is growing evidence that a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors can increase the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells without increasing the toxic effects on healthy tissues. For various reasons it has taken a long time for these drugs (which are extremely safe and non-toxic) to enter clinical trials in combination with radiotherapy. But I’m optimistic that this will happen in the next 12 months. This is a totally unbiased opinion.

    If you could chose one piece of art ( film / play / book / music) that you love which would it be? Can you say why?

One of the things that have kept me sane during my career has been my involvement in music. I’m quite a good classical pianist: this is a useful hobby for a busy medic because I can pursue it in the comfort of my own home, whenever I like. I also love to perform in amateur musical theatre, and have had some very memorable times rehearsing and performing with companies in London and Sussex. Since moving to Glasgow I haven’t had time or energy to find a new society to join, but I’m hoping there will be opportunities when I’m more settled. These hobbies have given me many very precious memories, for which I am extremely grateful. Some highlights include: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the Richmond Theatre and a studio production of Sondheim’s ‘Company’; performing at the open-air Minack Theatre that is built into a cliffside in Cornwall; and playing a medium-sized role in the world premiere of ‘Remember Remember’, a fantastic musical about the Gunpowder Plot. But to answer the original question, I recently played Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata with a very talented cellist who is also a very promising conductor. Although I played lots of wrong notes, it was an amazing experience that will live with me forever.

    What golden nugget of information advice would you give to a junior colleague?

This is the most difficult question. I never imagined I would end up being a senior academic in a major teaching hospital. And the prospect would have filled me with horror when I was at medical school. But now I’m here and I absolutely love it. So I guess I would say: be open to opportunities and when you find something you enjoy, give it everything you’ve got!

Posted by: Florence | November 7, 2011

Answers on Spikes

What is this? SPIKES? SPOKES? or SPOOKS? It may not all be bad news.

The answers to Image of the Week reveal all.


Posted by: Florence | November 7, 2011

Breaking bad news

Breaking bad news is never easy.

Listen to these experiences and learn.

These frank accounts are from those who have been on the receiving end.

Essential listening.

Posted by: Florence | November 7, 2011

Talking Health

A new website where patients give interviews on their experience of health and illness has been set up. Patients share their views on smoking cessation, seeing the GP, investigations and treatment.

Here for example a patient describes the symptoms and signs of prostate cancer.

An excellent site.

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