Fall 2022 - ONC 502 G100

Concepts in Oncology (3)

Class Number: 6145

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Prerequisites:

    Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.



This course covers the biology and epidemiology of cancer and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research on the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD.


Course times: Mondays and Wednesdays 1600-1730
Location: In person at BC Cancer Research Centre (TBA)
                (Virtual option depending on the pandemic situation)

The objective of this course is to have students learn to integrate knowledge and research activities in the biology of cancer with various disciplines in oncology. There is an emphasis on clinical translation and many of the lectures are delivered by clinicians and pathologists with specialist knowledge of different facets of oncology. At the end of the course students should be able to answer questions such as: How do current cancer treatments work and why do they often fail? How do you determine if a population has an increased incidence of a specific cancer due to genetic versus environmental versus lifestyle influences? How does genetic instability contribute to cancer initiation and progression? What are the advantages/difficulties of using gene therapy approaches to treat cancer? What drives the evolution of a cancer cell clone? How do cancer/host interactions limit or promote tumor expansion? What are the ethical issues involved in gathering genetic information for cancer control?

Course Structure: 1.5 hours per session, 2 sessions per week  

Lecture format: The course is divided into sections based on the topics to be covered. Each section consists of two to five classes (1.5 hours per class) and is taught by experts in the field. Approximately 22 cancer experts at BC Cancer are involved in the course. The course director arranges the schedule of experts, attends all lectures, manages the course and assignments and grading.  

Course Content:                                 

Translational Cancer Genomics
Global Cancer Control
Pathologic Classificiation and molecular correlation
DNA damage and repair
Radiation oncology and the solid tumour microenvironment
Cancer Chemotherapy
Cancer Stem Cells
The immune response to cancer
Molecularly-targeted cancer therapies

Topics may also focus on specific cancer types including the following: brain cancer, hereditary cancers, gastro-intestinal malignancies, sarcomas, lung cancer, leukemias, ovarian cancer, pediatric cancer, breast cancer, lymphomas, and prostate cancer.

NOTE: This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD program.


  • Midterm: short written report and oral presentation 40%
  • Final exam: Take home exam (1 week) consisting of a mixture of questions requiring short and long answers 60%


The criteria for the assessment of essays will be the level of students' understanding of the problems discussed in the lectures. The essays and final examination are marked by appropriate instructors. The overall grading is calculated by the course director.



  • Access to high-speed internet
  • Computer (with webcam)


To be assigned by instructor.

Instructor also provide handouts.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html