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The University of Southampton

MEDI6129 Molecular Pathology of Cancer and Application in Cancer Diagnosis, Screening and Treatment

Module Overview

This module covers the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer development, growth and metastasis, and the differences between different cancers. It will explore the different molecular and cellular actions of anti-cancer treatments, the genomic factors affecting response and resistance to treatment, and the research approaches to anti-cancer drug design and development. Broad situations which confer a high cancer risk to a person and/or to other members of the same family will be discussed in the context of how genomic information may be integrated into cancer screening programmes. This module will prepare the students to interrogate the cancer data sets from the 100,000 Genomes Project.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the principles of cancer development and emerging changes in classification
  • Compare and contrast the genomic basis of cancer predisposition, and how this is used to identify people and families at higher risk of cancer
  • Critically evaluate how genomic information is currently applied in the diagnosis, classification, treatment selection and monitoring of cancer (e.g. leukaemia, breast, melanoma, lung cancers)
  • Analyse how information from exome and whole genome analysis of tumour tissue can be used to investigate the molecular and cellular processes leading to cancer and inform strategies for drug development


Tumour classification systems Cellular properties of tumours: growth, division, invasion, aberrant hormone or toxin production, immunogenicity Factors in tumour formation: molecular mechanisms and role of microenvironment, molecular signatures & changing classification Diagnosis, molecular sub-classification, aggressiveness (prognosis) characterisation of metastases Monitoring disease following treatment (medical, surgical or bone marrow transplant) Genomic testing of cell free tumour DNA in blood, for diagnosis and monitoring of solid cancers Importance of sample quality for tumour genomic analysis Molecular basis of single gene subsets; research evidence (co-segregation studies) identifying sequence alterations (single gene Sanger sequencing and NGS panel tests); how to interpret molecular results for pathogenicity – literature, databases, & in silico tools Other molecular predisposition; GWAS studies; other predisposition biomarkers Environmental factor and lifestyle predisposition and protection; molecular action; genomic interaction; epigenetic factors Genomic and cellular markers and optimal treatment regimes: i) in haematological cancer ii) in solid tumours Companion diagnostics in cancer Breakthrough tumour /metastases and molecular mechanisms

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will comprise two blocks of two days' intensive on-site teaching, each followed by approximately three weeks of independent study. A variety of learning and teaching methods will be adopted to promote a wide range of skills and meet the differing learning styles of the group. The on-site teaching will include seminars, practical demonstrations, discussions and exercises surrounding interpretation of data and clinical scenarios, and specialist lectures given by a range of academic and health care professionals. This will ensure a breadth and depth of perspective, giving a good balance between background theories and principles and practical experience. Off-site independent learning will take place on the virtual learning environment hosted by the UoS.

Independent Study122
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Online Resource.

Genetics & Genomics in Medicine: Strachan, Goodship and Chinnery. 

Online Resource.

Online Resource.

A Practical Guide to Human Cancer Genetics: Hodgson, Foulkes, Eng, and Maher. 

Online Resource.


Assessment Strategy

The assessment for the module provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes. There will be two components to the assessment i) 1500 word written assignment 1, and ii) 1500 word written assignment 2. The pass mark for the module and all assessed components is 50%. If you do not achieve the pass mark on this module by achieving 50% or more in all components, you may still pass by compensation. To do this, you must achieve a qualifying mark of 40% in each of the assessed components. Each of the component marks is then combined, using the appropriate weighting, to give an overall mark for the module. If this overall mark is greater than or equal to 50% you will have passed the module. If your overall mark is less than 50% when the weighting has been applied to the components, you will have failed the module. If you have not achieved 40% or more on all components, you cannot use compensation and have failed the module. If you have failed the module, you will have the opportunity to submit work at the next referral (re-sit) opportunity using the method outlined below. You must achieve the pass mark in all referred components. On passing your referrals, your final module mark will be capped at 50%.


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assignment  (1500 words) 50%
Written assignment  (1500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assignment  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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