Cancer education merits a coordinated, vertical curriculum and an integrated planning strategy. It has become clear that it is as important to teach the techniques of supportive care in oncology as it is to teach the concepts of cancer biology, pathology, epidemiology, prevention, detection and aggressive treatments. Our aim is to determine whether the medical school and nursing school curricula give the students an introduction to the concepts of supportive care of the cancer patient. The spectrum of such supportive care encompasses a wide range of issues working towards a common goal of providing overall comfort with an emphasis on quality of life, and runs parallel with specific therapeutic strategies and associated problems. Do the graduate medical studient and nursing student under-stand that cancer management is multidisciplinary and team-based? That the approach to pain management not only includes the administration of pain medications, but should also evaluate pain assessment and anesthetic, neurosurgical and behavioral approaches? That nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy can be ameliorated to a certain extent? That infections are common but algorithms exist for prevention and therapy? That certain metabolic complications are unique to cancer patients? That transfusions are vital procedures in patients with neoplasms undergoind aggressive treatments but are associated with certain risks and complications? That there are serious psychosocial, ethical and legal needs to be considered? To address these issues, the American Cancer Society Professors of Clinical Oncology, the American Cancer Cociety Professors of Oncology Nursing and the United States Cancer Center Directors were surveyed. In general, professors perceived that education in cancer and its supportive care was well done at their schools of medicine and nursing; however, students' perceptions of their education differed from that of the professors. The paper includes suggestions to curriculum directors of medical and nursing schools for constructive changes with regard to instruction in the techniques of supportive care in oncology.
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