The Board of Study in Clinical Oncology (BOCO), from its inception in late 1980s, has endeavoured meticulously to train and provide our country with well trained and Board Certified Specialists in General Clinical Oncology. The BOCO can now justifiably be proud of its achievement in establishing and of all of its efforts towards providing specialist Oncology services in all areas of Sri Lanka. Currently, Board Certified Specialist General Clinical Oncologists provide specialist Oncology services in all areas of the country.

Although General Clinical Oncologists are able to provide optimal cover for the majority of clinical problems that come up in Clinical Oncology, ultra-specialist care and high-powered services are required in certain well defined specialized areas. To cater to this need, over the last few years, the BOCO has commenced in stages, training programs for different sub specialties in Clinical Oncology. Paediatric Oncology sub-speciality was incorporated into the  current training programmes of the Board of Study in Clinical Oncology in 2010. As a further  step in this direction the BOCO has now decided to request for the inclusion into its  curriculum, Haemato-Oncology Training leading to Board Certification in this sub-specialty.

The mission of this endeavour is to ultimately produce appropriately selected, properly  trained, exquisitely competent and holistically caring Haemato-Oncologists who would be  able to satisfy the needs of the country in providing the best possible state-of-the-art care  and follow up for those patients with Haematological Malignancies who need expert  attention.

The workload of anyone involved in the care of Haematological Malignancies, in the medical  and para-medical modalities, consists of a considerable proportion of Cancer Problem. It has  been empirically estimated that around 30 per cent of the workload of a Cancer unit in Sri  Lanka involves Haematological Malignancies. In addition, the picture reported globally,  especially from the developing nations, is that many of the Haematological malignancies are  getting cured, with very much less treatment related morbidity and mortality. Sri Lanka  should endeavour to further improve the cure rate and towards that end, skilled specialist  care of major Haematological Malignancies is of utmost importance.

While the major portion of these Haematological Malignancies could be handled adequately  by Clinical Oncologists, there are those that require the expertise of highly trained Haemato Oncologists. Such a person will be able to use his or her training, experience and the  infrastructure facilities available in a highly specialised unit to cater to the needs of  Haematological Malignancies. Haemato-Oncology is an established sub-specialty in the West  for a long time and it is now a sub specialty in all countries in Asia. There are around 1000  patients annually who are diagnosed with Haematological Malignancies, admitted to  National Cancer Institute, Maharagama. It is expected that there will be cadre provision for  up to 8 Haemato-Oncologists in the Ministry of Health within the next 10 – 15 years, to man  Haemato-Oncology Units and Bone Marrow Transplantation Units.

The Haemato-Oncologists are expected to provide a specialty service to those  Haematological Malignancies who need expert care in the management of their  cancers. The range of the functions of the said specialist would also include  cooperating with and assisting other sub-specialities as well as General Clinical  Oncology.

The broad core objectives of the entire training programme are as follows:

  • Patient care
    • The ultimate aim is to provide comprehensive care and specialised services to  Haemato-Oncology. The trainees are expected to acquire the necessary  knowledge and expertise in dealing with Haematological Cancers. The trainees  would need to determine the infrastructure facilities required for optimal care  to these patients and make personal and fervent efforts to acquire them into  the specialised Haemato-Oncology units through the agencies that are  responsible for the provision of these amenities.
  • Medical knowledge
    • It is expected that the trainees should acquire extensive and up-to-date  knowledge on Haemato-Oncology during the course of the training programme.
    • Wide reading and critical thinking together with reflective documentation would  be essential attributes that should be developed during the programme.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
    • It is essential that the trainees develop the indispensable skills in  communication and liaison with other colleagues and the staff of the different  units of a medical facility with whom they have to have a constant dialogue. It  is most likely that the work of the Haemato-Oncologists would involve a multi disciplinary approach in many instances and towards that end, proper  communication with all those involved in the care of a patient with  Haematological Malignancies would be crucial to the provision of optimal care.
    • The trainees should also acquire the necessary skills and attitudes in  maintaining a dialogue with the affected patients, their families and care givers. Development of empathy and understanding of the problems faced by  them would be an essential prerequisite to being a competent and successful  Haemato-Oncologist.
  • Professionalism
    • It is envisaged that the trainees in Haemato-Oncology would act and behave in  a most professional manner in all dealings with senior and junior colleagues  and others involved in the management of patients with Haematological  Malignancies. This is particularly relevant in Haematological Malignancies as  one need to secure the services of several other para-medical categories of  staff in the provision of comprehensive care to those with Haematological  Malignancies.

These attitudes and skills need to be carefully nurtured during the training  programme.

Practice-based and Evidence-based approach

The trainees are expected to acquire these approaches to the ways in which  the myriad of Haematological Malignancies could be handled. Although  evidence-based medicine is the cornerstone on which optimal care is based, a  practice-based approach may be appropriate in certain circumstances. The  skills based on both approaches need to be developed during the training  programme.

Board Certified Specialists in Haemato-Oncology are not expected to engage in laboratory based diagnosis and issue of laboratory reports, but will engage in all aspects of treatment and Bone Marrow transplantation.

  1. Trainees should have passed the MD (Clinical Oncology) Part II examination
  2. Trainees should not be Board Certified by the PGIM in any Speciality or Subspeciality

Please refer to the relevant prospectus for the most up to date information. The prospectus of a particular programme contains official information pertaining to a programme approved by the Board of Management, University Senate and the University Grants Commission

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