Study preparation

Source:  Study preparation    Tag:  radiation physics books
I always think it is really important to get a sense of what the examiners want from you. This is especially important when you are'drowning' in information and you need to prioritise your revision for the FRCR. And remember the exam is there to enable you to be a good safe oncology trainee. So most questions have some relevance to clinical practice. Here is a copy of what they say on the RCR web-site (link above)
  1. Cancer Biology and Radiobiology: the processes of cancer cell transformation and tumour development and how these processes may be demonstrated and the response to ionising radiation of cells both individually and grouped as tissues
  2. Clinical Pharmacology: the structure, action, use and evaluation of drugs used in the treatment of a patient with cancer.
  3. Medical Statistics: with special reference to clinical trials and assessment of results, and the epidemiology of cancer
  4. Physics: the application of physical principles and methods in clinical radiotherapy, physical basis of the therapeutic uses of radioactive isotopes, radiation hazards and protection
The examiners include clinical oncologists, biologists, clinical pharmacologists, medical statisticians, medical physicists and radiobiologists.

Finding the best books can be difficult. The Royal College suggest core texts and additional reading. My own problem was I really disliked some of their core texts. There are some books that are just not user friendly. My advice is to read the core texts as much as possible, but only if you can stay awake. I think some of the exam questions are taken directly out of the books they recommend and this is why it is important to have read them.

The following were my own favourites and on reflection seemed to help me with the exams the most. These were all used in conjunction with lecture notes and web resources

For Radiobiology and Cell Biology

  • Radiobiology for the Radiobiologist, Hall & Giaccia. I found these really helpful and is pitched at the right level for the exam. Covers cell biology, but not enough to use this alone.
  • The Basic Science of Oncology, Tannock. This is a great text. To be honest I did not read all of it. Some parts seemed a bit too in depth.
  • Molecular Biology of Cancer, L Pecorino. This is not on the RCR list, but it should be! Great book that is very user friendly, but be warned do not use on its own.
  • ASTRO questions and answers. Link to web site for 2010 and 2011 is currently not working, but you can still get 2009 guide free off ASTRO web site at the moment. This study guide has hundreds of questions and detailed answers. I think these questions are very similar to FRCR exam and I think a few were more or less identical. 
  • Cancer Clinical Pharmacology, Schellens.  My first impressions of this book were not great as it looks quite dense and the lay-out is not brilliant. But please read this book. I don't think I could have passed Pharmacology without it. There is so little out there to help prepare for pharmacology you can't afford not to have read this. I found lots of really useful 'gems' in here - little pockets of facts hidden in the text that came in useful for the exam. 
  • I looked at some of the others, but I did not find them that helpful. 
  • Go on to one of the great pharm courses to supplement any reading.
  • It has to be Medical Statistics at a Glance by Petrie & Sabine. How can an 'at a glance' book ever be enough for the FRCR exam I hear you ask, but in my experience it is. A classic book that is pretty much loved by everyone. This has to be your core text and supplemented a little with the other texts.

  • Honestly I did not use many Physics texts as the Physics lecture notes from The Christie course are so good. 
  • I used a little from The Physics of Radiation Therapy by Khan. It costs alot of money to buy, so if you have good lecture notes, probably not justified.