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Queen Mary Summer School

How to Beat Cancer: Prevention, Detection and Treatment

a view of cells under a microscope


Academic Leads: Dr Judith Offman and Professor Richard Grose

Syllabus: SUM501R_How_to_Beat_Cancer [PDF 140KB]

This summer school  course will be a collaborative academic offering by Queen Mary University London, Barts and The London Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. The course will provide clear understanding of the different types of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that are related to the pathogenesis of cancer. The first section will review the principles of cancer initiation, promotion and progression. The second section will focus on the individual, controllable  factors that can affect cancer risk: 1) smoking;  2)  body mass index; 3) physical exercise; 4) alcohol consumption; 5) diet (pro-carcinogenic and anti-carcinogenic dietary substances);  6) UV radiation; and 7) vaccination against oncogenic viruses. The third section will focus on principles of cancer screening and the limitations of cancer screening test development . The benefits and harms of current cancer screening tests will be reviewed. The fourth section will review the essential roles of education, motivation, incentivization, and psychosocial environment (mental health, stress, socialization, education,  financial status) on compliance with cancer-lowering behaviors of individuals and the larger impact of compliance  on the public health, nationally and globally.  It will  showcase the  value of multidisciplinary approaches in achieving the compliance needed to change health outcomes around the world.



Course content is subject to approval.

Course aims

The  purpose of this course is to educate students preparing for careers in medicine, allied health professions and research about the controllable factors that have the greatest potential for lowering cancer risk in all patients, no matter what their genetic background. The module reviews  the  scientific evidence on non-heritable factors that modulate cancer risk  in populations and individuals as well as their mechanisms of action.  The module further explores the principles of human psychology that play roles in abetting or compromising patient compliance with the risk-lowering behaviors that are the focus of this module. Ultimately, through this new knowledge, the module aims to empower the students to reinforce cancer risk-lowering behavior. 

Teaching and learning

By studying this course, you will learn to:

Academic content

  • understand fundamental principles of carcinogenesis
  • evaluate the data supporting different types of environmental factors that initiate and promote cancer
  • analyze the role of human behavior modulation in achieving the goals of cancer prevention 

Disciplinary skills

  • display skills in summarizing and explaining scientific evidence in oral and written communication
  • demonstrate skill in critical appraisal and analysis of the scientific literature and the ability to judge and interpret methods and results
  • integrate information of different types from different sources to construct a coherent presentation on a scientific topic 


  • acquire fundamental knowledge in the area of human cancer prevention
  • adapt the principles of cancer prevention science into effective patient support for risk-lowering behavior modification
  • engage and communicate effectively about cancer prevention and cancer risk modulation through behavior change


Additional costs and course excursions

All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

For course and housing fees visit our finance webpage

Entry requirements

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications

How to apply

Have a question? Get in touch - one of the team will be happy to help!

Applications close 24 May 2024


Teaching dates
Session 2: 22 July to 8 August 2024
Course hours
150 hours (of which 45 will be contact hours)
Group poster presentation 50% Lay summary and cartoon 50%

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