Good Rad Onc papers/topics for med student presentation

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May 28, 2012
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I thought I would ask around and see if anyone knew of some literature that might serve as appropriate fodder for a 30 minute presentation I have to give in Radiation Oncology in a few weeks. I am currently reading through a few Radiation Oncology journals looking for a paper that seems appropriate. I should also add that I plan on going into Radiation Oncology, so there's no need to select a paper with a bent towards another specialty.

Ideally, this would be a topic that I could genuinely teach people about (i.e., I could always talk about the current treatment for SCLC but the faculty in the department are unlikely to learn anything new from such a talk), but also accessible enough for someone of my learning level to be able to understand. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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When I gave this talk as an M4 (back in 2011!) I talked about anal carcinoma. It's actually really fascinating, because it is a disease where treatment transitions from a VERY morbid sugery to definitive chemoradiation as the primary treatment approach, with very good outcomes (although it is still a tough treatment to get through, patients get to keep their spichture which is HUGE for quality of life). I think that faculty do appreciate a comprehensive review of the literature which includes the old studies that let up to this point, and also new directions in therapy. If you just talk about one paper, you are going to have to review other papers as well in order to give appropriate context anyway. And I think that as a med student youre not expeced to teach anything earth shatering to the faculty. During my resideny, I have seen lots of med students do presentations on new findings on very esoteric concepts, and frankly I found their presentations to be boring and useless.
If you've done any research in radonc then pick a topic somewhat related to your research. If you haven't done any research pick something that's not overly complicated or just omit the complicated stuff that you don't understand. I don't expect med students to give an earth shattering presentation but it's very clear when they start talking about treatment volumes and dose levels and have no clue what they're talking about. The expectation isn't that you're an expert at radiation oncology after a 1 month rotation, it's just a means of evaluating you so give a presentation you feel comfortable with.
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If you have no research to present/discuss, then I would discuss one of the more recent papers that the staff may not be familiar with. Something relatively simple (without discussion of treatment volumes and dose levels like stated above) like the Yale SRS-TKI vs TKI-SRS vs WBRT-TKI paper. Start with a background on how standard treatment is done, what the controversy is that the paper was meant to address, followed by the results of the paper.
It depends on what they are asking you to do. There have been some interesting publications in the last 6-8 months that would make interesting journal club articles (QUARTZ is probably too controversial, but the Japanese PCI vs Observation in ES-SCLC published a few months ago in NEJM would give you an opportunity to discuss PCI treatment of ES-SCLC and potentially treatment controversies ie chest consolidation RT).

The key is choosing a focused topic. If they don't want a journal club-type presentation, choose a small topic and delve into the past and future of said topic (searching through is a good way to find further info).