84440 - Oncological Pharmacology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

Describe the mechanism of action, indications and limitations of oncologic and antiemetic drugs.

Course contents

Lecture 1 (2 h). ANTICANCER DRUGS – Part A. Compare and contrast mechanisms of action, indications, contraindications, adverse drug reactions of chemotherapy (traditional chemotherapy; e.g., anthracyclines, taxanes)

Lecture 2 (2 h). ANTICANCER DRUGS – Part B. Compare and contrast mechanisms of action, indications, contraindications, adverse drug reactions of targeted therapy (monoclonal antibodies vs small-molecules), including immunotherapy (immune checkpoint inhibitors) and hormone therapy (tamoxifen).

Lecture 3 (2 h). ANTIEMETIC DRUGS. Describe the mechanisms of action, indications and limitations of antiemetic medications: anti-dopaminergic drugs (domperidone vs metoclopramide), 5-HT3 receptor antagonists (ondansetron), tachykinin NK1 receptor inhibitors (aprepitant). The role of corticosteroids. Combination regimens. Classify the emetogenic potential of anticancer drugs.

Lecture 4 (2 h). SAFE PRESCRIBING IN ONCOLOGY. Understand peculiarities of drug development approach for oncological drugs. Prediction and management of clinically-relevant interactions and adverse drug reactions. Breast cancer as a case study.


Suggested texbooks:

1) Hitchings, Lonsdale, Burrage, Baker. The top 100 drugs. Clinical pharmacology and practical prescribing. 2nd Edition, 2019, Elsevier.

2) Goodman and Gilman’s Manual of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2nd Edition. 2014. The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Teaching methods

Interactive lectures where general rules are derived from practical examples taken from everyday experience. Teaching materials and slides are made available to the students via the moodle platform at least the day before the lesson. During the lessons, it is important for students to have direct access (online or off-line) to the teaching materials in order to be able to concentrate on specific contents rather than on reproducing slides.

Attending lessons plays an important role in the learning process. During lessons, the teachers guides the students in the critical reading of the teaching materials and provides opportunities for online formative assessment.

La final summative assessment takes also into account the level of critical thinking achieved by the student while illustrating the extracted topic.

Attendance to learning activities is mandatory; the minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 60% of lessons. For Integrated Courses (IC), the 60% attendance requirement refers to the total amount of I.C. lessons. Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course, and will have to attend relevant classes again during the next academic year.

Professors may authorise excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.

Assessment methods

The oral exam of Cancer Biology will cover all the subjects of the course. The student has to answer questions to demonstrate his/her knowledge of specific subjects, the ability to understand the links between different parts of the course, and the use of appropriate terminology. 

Gradation of the final grade:

Insufficient: lack of preparation. Serious and repeated conceptual errors.

18-19: knowledge of the basic concepts without serious gaps. Exposition of concepts and language as a whole acceptable.

20-24: knowledge of the basic concepts without gaps. Ability to analyze and link in partial autonomy. Exposure of discrete concepts and language.

25-29: preparation of good or very good level or even excellent preparation but with inaccuracies in the presentation that compromise the achievement of full marks. Ability to analyze and link independently. Exposure of concepts in the right succession and mastery of the language.

30-30L: full preparation, consolidated and without inaccuracies on the topics covered in the course. Ability to promptly frame the topic. Ability to analyze and connect independently. Concepts in the right succession and full command of the specific language.

The assessment regarding "Oncological Pharmacology" will be based on the critical reading of a Summary of Product Characteristic about drugs of interest in oncology.

Teaching tools

Students are encouraged to attend the lectures with a printout of the relevant file downloaded from moodle or bringing electronic devices to access the relevant material during the lecture. This will allow easier interaction with the teacher when asked to discuss a problem.

Also e-learning material (including scientific literature and self-assessment tools) will be provided.

Office hours

See the website of Emanuel Raschi