Medical Oncology

About the specialty: 

Medical Oncology concerns the specialised assessment and management of patients with cancer. Medical oncologists are trained to use systemic drugs in the treatment of cancer, and to administer these therapies to patients who either have localised or metastatic malignancy in need of systemic therapy or whose cancer has potentially been cured by surgery but for whom further adjuvant systemic therapy improves their outlook. The role of the medical oncologist is to discuss the treatment options with patients, supervise the therapy and manage any complications of disease and/or treatment that may arise. All such patient management is done in consultation with other clinicians within the context of multidisciplinary meetings and clinical networks.

Medical and Clinical Oncology (managed by the Royal College of Radiologists) are the two main medical specialities that actively manage patients with non-haematological malignancy. They often work in partnership, and both give systemic therapy to patients, but only the clinical oncologists administer radiotherapy and there are other differences in work-pattern, approach and focus.

Entry into Medical Oncology training is possible following successful completion of both a foundation programme and a core training programme. There are two core training programmes for Medical Oncology training:

  • Core Medical Training (CMT)
  • Acute Care Common Stem - Acute Medicine (ACCS-AM)
Latest news and developments: 

New 2017 Medical Oncology curriculum

The new curriculum for the specialty was approved by the GMC in July 2017. The curriculum, ARCP decision aid and guidance on implementation are provided in the sections below. 


The curriculum for each specialty defines the process of training and the competencies needed for the award of a certificate of completion of training (CCT). The curriculum includes the assessment system for measuring trainees’ progress comprising workplace based assessment and knowledge based assessment.

Information on the Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Medical Oncology can be found on the MRCP(UK) website.

A new curriculum for Medical Oncology will be implemented in 2021.

Draft 2021 Medical Oncology Curriculum

The current curriculum for Medical Oncology appears below:

PDF icon 2017 Medical Oncology

Previous versions of the curriculum are no longer available online but copies can be requested from

ARCP Decision Aids: 

The ARCP decision aid for each specialty defines the targets that have to be achieved for a satisfactory ARCP outcome at the end of each training year.

PDF icon 2017 Medical Oncology ARCP Decision Aid

Forms and guidance: 

2017 National Trainee Survey reports

The following reports are based on the results of the 2017 National Trainee Survey. For copies of older reports email

PDF icon 2017 NTS Medical Oncology data analysis.pdf

PDF icon 2017 Medical Oncology Specialty Specific Questions.pdf

2017 Medical Oncology curriculum guidance

The document below provides guidance on implementation of the new curriculum and lists the changes to the previous version.

PDF icon Guidance on implementation of the 2017 Medical Oncology curriculum.pdf