Understanding Cancer: For Therapists and Healthcare Professionals

Thursday 14 September, 21 September and 28 September 2023, 9:30am to 12:30pm - virtual via Zoom

Course tutors: Tim Jackson and Dr Peter Mackereth

During this online course, we will cover a broad overview of the aetiology and epidemiology of cancer, as well as touching on the psycho-social and emotional impact of diagnosis for both patients and families. We will also look at the biology of cancer and the principles of mainstream cancer treatments, their side effects and how advances in scientific and medical research inform the potential of the personalised medicine of the future.

Students will be required to complete directed tasks and reflective feedback (this will take approximately 4.5 hours).

Suitable for: Anyone working with patients, carers and family members affected by cancer in a health care setting, charity or private practice.

Sign up for the Understanding Cancer course in May 2024 on Eventbrite now.

  • Increased their knowledge of the physical and emotional aspects of cancer and developed their understanding of various treatments, this will include diagnosis, staging, treatment modalities and short and longer side-effects.
  • Explore the many causes of cancer, identifying potential role in supporting patients and carers to seek support to reduce risk factors.
  • Discuss and debate the role of therapists and HCPs in contributing to public health activities, such as smoking cessation, making changes related to alcohol, diet, exercise etc.
  • Identify investigatory and treatment related concerns and issues affecting wellbeing, and manage medical interventions, such as procedural/needle anxiety, anticipatory nausea, and vomiting.
  • Appreciate the need to assess patients (and carers) concerns to assist them to seek additional support, information, as well as explore strategies to maximise resilience during and beyond cancer treatment.
  • Review awareness of oncological emergencies, such as neutropenia, spinal cord compression, including knowledge of red flags and instructions to patients to seek rapid assessment.  
  • Appreciate the need to adapt treatments sensitively and safely to the meet the needs of patients/carers with a variety of challenging symptoms/concerns, such as fatigue, chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, ascites, menopausal symptoms etc.
  • Consider the challenges faced by patients and carers at the different stages of the cancer pathway, including progressive disease and the possibility of an imminent end-of-life prognosis.

Date Topics

Week 1

14 September, 9.30am to 12.30pm


An Introduction to the course: Course Objectives, Expectations and Tasks

Session 1

Themes: What is Cancer? – types, incidence, presentation, aetiology, investigations, and diagnosis. The role of the Multi-Disciplinary Team. 2. Implications for therapists

Task 1

Utilising the Task Sheet 1 questions reflect on the role of therapist in supporting a patient to 1. Seek medical advice because of a symptom(s) Or 2. Make a health/wellbeing change e.g., stopping smoking, exercise, reducing alcohol etc

Week 2

21 September, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Session 2

Theme 1: Treatment(s) – Surgery, radiotherapy including radio-surgery, Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) including cytotoxic chemotherapy, hormonal, and immunological therapies and palliative care.  

Theme 2: Treatment related short to medium side-effects e.g., nausea and vomiting, mucositis, procedural/treatment related anxiety and panic.  

Task 2

Select a cancer diagnosis e.g., Breast, Prostate, Bowel etc, identify possible key treatment concerns/challenges for a patient or carer using the ‘Concerns Checklist’ provided – utilise online resources or/and patients or family/friend recent experience to inform the activity (anonymous)

Week 3

28 September, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Session 3

Theme 1: Oncological emergencies at diagnosis and as a result of disease progression e.g., Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression, Neutropenic sepsis, Supra Vena Caval Obstruction, Hypercalcaemia  

Theme 2: Longer-terms side-effects 2. Metastatic disease and complications e.g., spinal cord compression

Theme 3. SYMPTOM Model: implication for therapists

Task 3

Utilising the ‘SYMPTOM Model’ – identify a longer-term symptom – investigate websites and recommended online resources to complete an assessment with a current anonymous client (can be experience of the symptom and not necessarily a cancer diagnosis – can be a friend /family member) using the key question suggested for therapist

Course Evaluation Form will be sent and completed online. All tasks and evaluation form to be completed and submitted by 20 October 2023 – a signed certificate will then be issued. 

Please note there maybe adjustments made to the programme to ensure course objectives are met for online delivery

Last updated: July 2023