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From OncoLog, March 2013, Vol. 58, No. 3

Program Offers Physicians Courses on Treating Cancer Patients and Survivors

By Bryan Tutt

A series of courses available online enables physicians at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to share with a global medical audience lessons learned from treating a high volume of patients at a tertiary cancer center.

The Professional Oncology Education program, which was launched in 2010, provides courses for physicians and other health care professionals on various topics relating to cancer treatment. There is no charge for the courses, most of which can be taken for continuing medical education credit.

“The courses are intended to be for health care professionals at all levels and all specialties, not just oncologists,” said Kendra Woods, Ph.D., special assistant to the senior vice president in the Department of Academic Affairs. Dr. Woods works with faculty experts to develop the curriculum for each course. Some courses provide an overview of an area of cancer care, while others offer more specialized content. Most course transcripts have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Arabic.

Dr. Woods said many of the courses are designed to address topics about which little information is available to the medical community. For example, the cancer survivorship series is intended to help bridge the continuum of care between cancer hospitals and community physicians for long-term cancer survivors. “We want to empower physicians so that they’re comfortable answering their patients’ questions,” Dr. Woods said. The series includes general courses on survivorship and specific courses on the treatment of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors. The survivorship courses were among the first offered by the program, which currently includes 14 courses.

Other course topics include hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, tobacco cessation, introduction to clinical oncology, and breast cancer. Because MD Anderson has the world’s first multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to treating and studying inflammatory breast cancer, a course was developed to share lessons learned in this clinic about the diagnosis and treatment of this uncommon and difficult-to-recognize subtype.

Most of the content to date is presented in lectures, but Dr. Woods said she and her colleagues are developing courses that include case studies, chart reviews, or virtual or standardized patient scenarios. “We want to make the program more interactive,” she said. “And we act on inquiries and suggestions we receive about adding courses on specific topics.”

Professional Oncology Education Courses

Photo: Dr. Ellen Manzullo
Dr. Ellen Manzullo, a professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine, delivers a lecture on cancer-related fatigue for the Professional Oncology Education Program.

These courses are available free of charge at

  • Introduction to Clinical Oncology
  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Breast Cancer Survivorship
  • Bone Health in Cancer Survivors
  • Colorectal Cancer Survivorship
  • Prostate Cancer Survivorship
  • Survivorship: Introductory Lectures
  • Survivorship 1: Vital Information for Physicians who Treat Cancer Survivors
  • Survivorship 2: Normal and Abnormal Bowel Function in Cancer Survivors
  • Survivorship 3: Cancer-Related Fatigue, Sleep Disorders, and Cognitive Function in Cancer Survivors
  • Survivorship 4: Endocrine Issues and Sexual Health after Cancer
  • Tobacco Cessation

For more information, visit or or follow @MDAnderson_POE on Twitter.

Other articles in OncoLog, March 2013 issue:


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