Where did cancer education for non-oncologists go?

The primary care physician is the main point of health contact for many people. Although the median age for breast cancer in the US is 61, young people do get breast cancer. Most women would not get a mammogram until age 40. I hate to say it, but I think I would be more qualified to discuss breast cancer than someone who has zero clinical experience… http://mbcnbuzz.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/a-wake-up-call-for-young-people-with-metastatic-breast-cancer-and-all-of-us/


*Note: This post is based on my (limited) experience as a trainee in medical school and residency at one institution (University of Toronto). If you have had a different experience please share in the comments or on Twitter

On the weekend I wrote “Diagnosing cancer is hard” and said I would later write about what can be changed on the physicians’ side to improve diagnostic skills, and well…I lied. I don’t have any great insights into that. What I would like to discuss is the lack of general oncology teaching for non-oncologists.

Cancer is responsible for 30% of all deaths in Canada; two in five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and one in four will die of it (Canadian Cancer society). Survival rates are increasing, and patients even with advanced or metastatic disease are living longer due to new treatments, turning cancer in many…

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3 thoughts on “Where did cancer education for non-oncologists go?

  1. Jay Detsky says:

    As the author of the above post I don’t understand your comment. I’m not sure what the age of women, or anyone diagnosed with cancer has to do with my post; I am merely arguing that family doctors need to be better educated in oncology so they can play a larger role in managing patients with cancer.

    • katherinembc says:

      Jay–I agree with what you said in your post! Family doctors DO need more training in oncology. Because they are the main point of contact for women below mammography age (40). If our family doctors do not know the basics of oncology and how common cancers present the chance for misdiagnosis is high. Because some doctors are not well versed in oncology, often people who don’t fit conventional wisdom (35 year old woman with breast cancer for example) aren’t treated appropriately. That 35 year old woman is five years away from a mammogram–if her family doc does not know much about oncology, he may think her back pain or other potential cancer symptom is “a pulled muscle.” Again, I agree with your call for more oncology training for non-oncologists. Sorry for any confusion.

      • Jay Detsky says:

        Sorry for the confusion!
        I’m working on a post as well on patient advocates and how important they are, glad to have found your blog (via you finding my blog!)

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