Personalised Medicine for Cancer: The Future or a Fantasy?

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As part of the fantastic MedSoc Mondays programme, MedSoc Oncology proudly hosted our first debate on February 1st between two of UCL’s brilliant Professors of Oncology; Daniel Hochhauser and Charles Swanton. Both speakers chose their sides and chose to take the tough options, with Prof Swanton, whose research focuses on developing personalised therapies choosing to argue against the role of personalised interventions and Prof Hochhauser putting aside his own stance to argue for a personalised approach. Our speakers set out their arguments in opening statements before an entertaining and broad-ranging open debate, covering issues such as costs of therapy, scientific challenges and even the definition of the personalised therapies about which they were debating! There was an excellent rapport between Prof Hochhauser and Prof Swanton, with some amusing criticisms of each other’s arguments being thrown about, much to the pleasure of the audience. The audience had an opportunity to ask questions and there were many insightful and interesting questions, which brought yet more important topics up for discussion. Overall the debate was very informative and we were delighted to hear that so many of the audience enjoyed it. It was a great privilege to be able to benefit from the knowledge and experience of our two speakers. Please do keep an eye out for future MedSoc Oncology events and owing to the success of this debate, we will surely hold another in the future!

InspireMEdicine Conference – “A Whistlestop Tour of Cancer Care”

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We hope you enjoyed the workshop at this year’s InspireMEdicine Conference, which was kindly hosted and conducted by Dr Kai-Keen Shiu from UCLH.

Oncology is a well balanced specialty requiring both scientific bent as well as good decision making and communication. The aim of the workshop was to provide everyone with a broad overview of the skills oncologists require and the cases they run into on a daily basis, and we hope it made you slightly more interested in a career in oncology!

Here are the slides for the workshop, kindly put together and provided by Dr Shiu:

EMSO Oncology Conference

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Here’s a quick shoutout to Year 4 and 5 medical students who are interested in oncology! Check out this really cool opportunity! ESO Course on Medical Oncology for Medical Students 2016

Valencia, Spain – 14 Jul – 19 Jul 2016

This five-day residential course is open to fourth and fifth year medical students providing insight into all aspects of medical oncology, enabling students to get a full picture of this challenging and interesting professional field before making the choice of their specialisation.

Through a condensed, high-standard educational programme, ESMO and ESO aim to motivate medical students to commit to working in this fast-evolving field for the benefit of cancer patients.

Term 1 for MedSoc Oncology

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Our first term kicked off with the “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning”, held to raise funds in support of MacMillan Cancer Care.  The event was a success, raising approximately £190, 75% more than last year’s inaugural bake sale.  Our subcommittee got together to bake a number of cakes and to tend the store, and this served as a good team building activity.


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The flagship event this term has been our talk entitled “Immunotherapy: A Shining Beacon in the War Against Cancer”.  We had the pleasure of hearing from Dr Sergio Quezada, one of the leading authorities on immunotherapy at the UCL Cancer Institute.  This fascinating talk saw a turnout of about 70, a testament to the significance and promise of immunotherapy for cancer.Dr Quezada


It’s been a great term! All of us in the Oncology division look forward to seeing you at our future events.

The Oncology Section 2015-2016

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Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, especially in the developed world. As a disease of aging and affluence, it is likely to grow in significance in the coming years, burdening healthcare services all around the world.

Through organising a cornucopia of engaging events throughout the course of the academic year, our society hopes to inform students about this major disease, and inspire them to join in the war against cancer.

Visit our facebook page at to find out more about our exciting events for the year.

Alternatively, email us at directly for any enquires you may have. We look forward to seeing you at our events!

Yu Hsuen

Chair, Oncology Section


By | Oncology, Paediatrics | No Comments


With guest speakers

Dr Shankar

CLIC Sargent representative

Lucy Northrop – childhood cancer survior


‘CHILDHOOD CANCER A 360° PERSPECTIVE’ proved to be another popular, and inspiring Medsoc Monday. Childhood cancer is a tragic but often treatable phenomenon that affects many families in the UK. Currently, over 3,600 children are diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year. The most common forms of cancer in childhood are leukaemia, lymphoma, brain tumours and sarcomas.   Research into treatment is happening all of the time and as a result success rates and cure are an ever-increasing trend. Fifty years ago, three quarters of children diagnosed with cancer died; now two thirds survive. Although diagnosis is undoubtedly the biggest challenge many families will ever face, some childhood cancers hold a reassuring cure rate of up to 99% for example in Retinoblastoma – a tumour of the eye. Despite this, families and individuals require significant support from medical professionals and charities in order to overcome the challenge.

Our event looked to collaborate the experiences and expertise of many different individuals involved in the presentation, diagnosis, investigation, treatment and long term effects of childhood cancer diagnosis.


We commenced with a thorough, detailed account of the varying forms of childhood cancers, death rates, common signs and symptoms and potential treatment options. This was in the form of a lecture from experienced Dr Shankar, a consultant paediatric oncologist from UCLH. He provided us with many impressive statistics on how treatments are becoming increasingly effective and included some excellent graphical evidence. Dr Shankar also demonstrated the aggressive nature of childhood cancers and also the side-effect heavy nature of the impressive but invasive treatments. He emphasised some sobering life-long repercussions of a childhood cancer diagnosis that can often be forgotten about in the excitement of cure.

Next, we were lucky enough to host a social worker from CLIC sargent the childhood cancer charity we were supporting. Working at UCH this speaker was able to impart information about the great opportunities CLIC provides to patients and families across the UK following their diagnosis. We discussed the 4 main ways in which CLIC help – financially, clinically, practically and emotionally. It was fascinating to hear how simple initiatives such as providing rooms for patients and families to stay (such as the ‘Patient Hotel’ opposite Macmillan Cancer Centre, Huntley Street) can make such a huge difference. They are comfortable, safe places for families to stay free of the stresses of travel and expense of renting a room in central London. The CLIC representatives also take time to get to know the patients and their individual requirements. Having somebody to contact and turn to at any time is invaluable to many families. With limited time, we were only able to hear a snippet of how the charity helps – it was fantastic to get an insight into what a great cause the evening supported.

Finally, we were privileged to hear first-hand how it felt to be diagnosed and treated for childhood cancer with the support from CLIC. Lucy was an absolute inspiration in sharing her own experience of osteosarcoma diagnosis in her wrist a few years ago. Her incredibly well-written memoir outlined the multiple hurdles she and her family had to overcome following diagnosis. Lucy underwent difficult chemotherapy, multiple complications including many admissions to hospital with infections and an even more troubling course of radiotherapy and wrist fusion surgery. She admitted would have been lost without support from the hospital professionals and CLIC.Untitled2 She had a very close relationship with her CLIC representative who she describes as keeping them going. When treatment was not working as well as hoped and her mother became increasingly frustrated and began to lose hope in the treatment plan CLIC were able to patiently step in and explain the plan and sympathise with troubles. She describes how the charity were also supportive practically providing advice, accommodation and best of all a friendly face to talk to when things got too tough. Sadly, Lucy lost two friends she met in hospital to cancer. It was having somebody to talk this through with that helped her stay positive herself and maintain the strength to go out with friends to celebrate the end of chemotherapy. Lucy is now back at work and thrilled to have had the all clear from her cancer. She is aware that there will be complications later in life, not least, limited movement in the affected wrist. She astonished the audience with her determination and positivity.

Speaking to Lucy and her father, Edgar, afterwards, it was humbling to learn how much pressure the experience had really placed on the family. Against the odds, they remain optimistic, grateful and keen to spread work of their experience to thank charities such as CLIC and also help other children facing such a tough diagnosis. We are glad we were able to create a stage to express these amazing experiences and would like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who attended. We raised £38.46 and a lot of awareness for an excellent charity that works alongside families challenged by cancer all across the UK including locally at University College London Hospital.



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Welcome to the Oncology section. We organise regular activities for anyone interested in Oncology. Whether you are interested in pursuing Oncology as a career or just have a general interest we have an event for you.

We are fortunate enough to have some world leaders talking at our events who can provide you with an excellent insight into the world of Oncology. This offers all students the opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond the University Curriculum and challenges many of the misconceptions of Cancer.

We endeavour to make all of our events as interactive and as interesting as possible by changing the format of our talks regularly. For example, we have our annual pub quiz at the Inspire MEdicine conference in January.

For those of you interested in fundraising, we hold a number of fundraising events for a wide variety of charities including Macmillan and CLIC Sergeant.

This section offers anyone with an interst in Oncology an amazing opportunity to pursue their interest and also to become involved in many of the other regular events we organise.