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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 215--216

Teaching pathology of breast cancer to medical undergraduates by case based learning method

N Kapoor 
 Department of Pathology, Coordinator Medical Education Unit, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
N Kapoor
Department of Pathology, Coordinator Medical Education Unit, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

How to cite this article:
Kapoor N. Teaching pathology of breast cancer to medical undergraduates by case based learning method.Indian J Cancer 2015;52:215-216

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Kapoor N. Teaching pathology of breast cancer to medical undergraduates by case based learning method. Indian J Cancer [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Sep 18 ];52:215-216
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According to World Health Organization (WHO) predictions, by the year 2020 the maximum burden of cancers is going to be in developing countries like India.[1] Hence to deal with problem of this magnitude future primary care physicians or the current medical undergraduates of these countries would need to be trained well in the knowledge of common cancers.

The medical undergraduate encounters topics related to cancers in various medical subjects during their course of study. Pathology is one of the first subjects in which the medical undergraduate has to study cancerous lesions of various organs. The traditional and usual method of teaching in India is by means of didactic lectures. This study was done to assess the impact on imparting knowledge of pathology of breast cancer to fifth semester medical undergraduate students by using an innovative teaching learning method called case based learning (CBL).

CBL is a well-established teaching learning method wherein a case-based approach is used, which engages students in discussion of specific situations, typically using real-world examples. This method is learner-centred, and involves intense interaction between the participants. Case-based learning focuses on the building of knowledge and the group of learners work together to examine or work upon the given case. The students collaboratively address problems from a perspective that requires analysis.[2],[3] The tutor acts as a facilitator.

Appropriate reading material was provided to teachers of Pathology (assistant professors in department of pathology), to familiarise them with the principles and techniques of case based learning method. MBBS students of fifth semester (n = 114) were divided in to two groups A and B, with 57 students each. Group B students were sensitised about the case based learning method with the help of a small presentation and discussion session. All the 114 students were given an overview of pathology of breast cancer. B group was further divided in four subgroups, who were assigned one CBL method trained teacher each for CBL sessions. On day one, subgroups B1 to B4 students were given a paper based clinical scenario of breast cancer. They were suggested various resources (books, journals and websites) that they could utilise for further study of the topic focussing on pathology of breast cancer.

Group A students were taught detailed pathology of breast cancer using the traditional didactic method. After finishing the teaching sessions of both the groups, a written test composed of pathology of breast cancer knowledge based twenty-six Multiple Choice Questions was administered to all 114 students of fifth semester. The questions, although jumbled up, were based on epidemiology, etiopathogenesis, morphology and molecular pathology of breast cancer. Each correct answer carried one mark. Mean scores of the total marks obtained and standard deviation (SD) in both group A and B students was calculated. Test of significance (student's t test) was applied to the data.

A significant improvement in knowledge level of pathology of breast cancer was found in the medical undergraduate students of group B [Table 1].{Table 1}

The CBL method of teaching learning helped the students to gain and retain knowledge about pathology of breast cancer significantly better in comparison to the didactic method of teaching. The result of this study has motivated the curriculum planners in our institution to take another look at the future strategy of teaching oncopathology. The authorities also found it encouraging that the existing facilities and human and other resources of the institute were utilised thus making such planning more feasible.


Federation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research Regional Center at Christian Medical College Ludhiana India for their guidance in project designing. Dr. Rishi Diwan and Dr. Archana Shrivastava assistant professors in department of Pathology Gandhi Medical College Bhopal for their support in implementing the project.


1World Health Organisation. Cancer Control Programs policies and managerial guidelines. 2nd ed. Geneva: World Health Organisation; 2002. p. 7.
2Available from:[Last accessed on 2010 Aug 20].
3Available from:[Last accessed on2010 Aug 27].