Oncology and Public Health


Course Objective

The final terms of the course ‘Oncology & Public Health’ are:
1. the student is able to recall basic principles of tumor development
and progression, diagnosis and treatment.
2. the student can describe basic public health related issues in
oncology, screening programs AND cancer epidemiology.
3. the student can explain the late effects of cancer diagnosis and
treatment, and consequences on physical, psychosocial and occupational
function and quality of life, and of possible intervention strategies
managing these consequences and their effectiveness
4. the student can illustrate patients' experiences and point out
translation of research into clinical practice.
5. the student is able to identify a relevant Oncology & Public Health
problem for an assigned tumor type, to formulate a research question,
able to find answers to this research question in the scientific
literature, rate the quality of studies and systematically report the

Course Content

More than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths every year make
cancer one of the most frequent causes of mortality and morbidity in
Europe. In the Netherlands, over 100,000 people are diagnosed with
cancer every year (www.cijfersoverkanker.nl). The course ‘Oncology &
Public Health’ focuses on oncology, from a "cell to society"
perspective. Plenary lectures will be provided by the experts in the
field of Oncology & Public Health both from the VU University, Amsterdam
UMC, including the Cancer Center Amsterdam, and
from other universities and organizations, such as the Netherlands
Cancer Institute (NKI-AVL). The lectures aim to transfer basic knowledge
about the relevant topics in the field of oncology starting with basic
knowledge on oncogenesis, cancer detection and treatment as well as
cancer epidemiology. Throughout the course, there is a shift towards a
societal perspective, with more emphasizes on the long term and late
effects of cancer
and its treatment, and rehabilitation and supportive care programs.
Preventive strategies and the effectiveness of various interventions
aiming to reduce side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, and to
improve the quality of life of cancer survivors will also be discussed.
According to the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), a
cancer survivor is defined as any person diagnosed with cancer, from the
time of initial diagnosis until his or her death. To highlight the
issues that cancer survivors are facing, during primary cancer
treatment, as well as after completion of treatment and during long term
survivorship (e.g., returning to work), three cancer survivors will
share their experiences with the students, and 3 practical translation
lectures are included.
Finally, the students will work on a concise literature study answering
an important research question on an Oncology & Public Health issue,
from the viewpoint of their assigned tumor type.

Teaching Methods

- Lectures (approximately 25) will be provided by guest teachers who are
experts in their field. Via these lectures, students will increase their
knowledge on oncology from the cell-to-society perscpective.
Additionally, some of these lectures include a patient presentation, in
which students can interview the patient, and some lectures reflect
translations into practice via, for example, a case study.
- 3 work groups (compulsory) and 3 consultancies are scheduled aiming to
support students with writing of literature review.

Method of Assessment

The examination of Oncology & Public Health consists of four parts:
assignment (review), oral presentation, reflection report and exam.
The assignment and the exam will account for 30% and 70% of the final
mark, respectively.
The oral presentation is compulsory to attend for all students. Both the
oral presentation and the reflection report need to be sufficient.
For the proposal and the exam, a mark from 1 to 10 will be given. Any
mark below 5.5 cannot be compensated by higher marks, i.e., when one of
the two marks is below 5.5, a re-examination or additional assignment is


Study material of this course is based on selected chapters of several
books, and complemented with relevant scientific publications. Students
will be able to download study material from the library or it will be
placed on Canvas.

Two examples of the included books are:
• Basics of Oncology, from Stephens and Aigner.
• Handbook of Cancer Survivorship, from Feuerstein.

Target Audience

This course of the minor Biomedical Topics in Health Care is open to
both Health Sciences students and Biomedical students from VU University
Amsterdam. Students from other universities and doing a similar
education are also invited to participate. The minor is not recommended
for Health and Life Sciences students.

Additional Information

Course coordinator:
Dr. L. Buffart, PhD. VUmc, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
and Medical Oncology
Dr. E. Ruhé, PhD. VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam

Dit vak is onderdeel van een minor en heeft een maximaal aantal
deelnemers. Studenten die de hele minor doen, hebben voorrang.

Custom Course Registration

Please sign up for this course prior to the first opening lecture. In addition, students have to self-enroll in a work group corresponding to a specific tumor type via Canvas prior to the first opening lecture. Students who are not assigned to a work group after the first day will not be able to participate in the course.

Recommended background knowledge

This course has a public health focus. Students with a more
biomedical background should take this into account.

General Information

Course Code AB_1027
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. L.M. Buffart
Examiner dr. L.M. Buffart
Teaching Staff dr. L.M. Buffart

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Computer lab, Study Group, Practical