Krista talks to us about being a 20th century medical student and what information resources are out there for students to learn about primary bone cancer and bone tumours. She also shares the difference she thinks the Bone Cancer Awareness Initiative will make to earlier diagnosis.
Please can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for a profession?
My name is Krista Bose and I am a 27-year-old, travel-loving, book-devouring, puppy-proud, final-year medical student. After being a primary school teacher for several years, and after living in several different countries, I've eventually settled in Wimbledon with my partner to set my mind to something I've always wanted to do - medicine! Four years and a bone cancer diagnosis later, I am now a final year medical student, months away (knock wood) from becoming a junior doctor. It's been a long time coming, but I'm thrilled to be nearing the end of a very challenging, yet rewarding chapter.
How aware do you think medical students are of the signs and symptoms of primary bone cancer?
As a medical student, I will admit that I knew very little about primary bone cancers myself - prior to my diagnosis, of course. If other medical students thought the same as I did, bone cancers are thought of as rare and complicated, a topic that is unlikely to be brought up in exams until final year, and a condition that you'd be unlucky to see as a doctor. In other words, it's easy to skim over! As with all medical subjects, there will be students with an aptitude for learning the more 'rare and complicated' conditions, but at my halfway point through medical school when I was diagnosed, I had only written the word 'sarcoma' in my study notes twice. To be perfectly honest, it was a passing thought.
Have you received any formal training on the symptoms of primary bone cancer?
I have received a few formal teachings on bone cancer from medical school. The first was overwhelming, and the second was after my own diagnosis, meaning it was easier to take in. The topic of primary bone cancer is rated a level-three priority on our list of learning objectives - the lowest priority possible. I see some room for improvement here...
What difference do you think the Bone Cancer Awareness Initiative will make to earlier diagnosis?
I hope that the Bone Cancer Awareness Initiative (BCAI) will bridge the gap that currently exists in the medical learning about primary bone cancers - at the moment I would personally say that the few formal teachings I've had were either overwhelming and overcomplicated, or the topic was lost to the world of 'self-directed-learning' altogether. By bridging the gap, younger years of medical students may be exposed to basics and common symptoms to help these presentations stick better in their memory. Middle years of students might hear from patients to help them understand the gravity of these cancers. Lastly, final year medical students might be exposed to the vast variety of primary bone cancers, and some of their specific treatments. The fact is, primary bone cancers have some of the worst mortality rates of any cancers. If this is ever going to change, the very least we can do is ask medical students, who are training to be our future doctors, to recognise it before it's too late.
To find out more about the Bone Cancer Awareness Initiative click below.