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MRCP SCE Medical Oncology

  • September 22, 2021

The MRCP Speciality Specific Examinations (SCE’s) offer Doctors a postgraduate qualification which demonstrates to prospective employing NHS Trusts achievement of a standard required of UK Specialist Trainees. The Royal College of Physicians offer 11 different SCE’s, including Medical Oncology. This Blog aims to answer any questions you may have regarding the Medical Oncology SCE, including what it specifically tests and how to prepare.

When can I take the Medical Oncology SCE and what are the requirements?

The Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Medical Oncology is delivered once a year and those dates will become available on the MRCP exams page. There are no entry requirements for the SCE in Medical Oncology, however, trainees in UK training posts would normally take the SCE in their penultimate year of higher specialty training.

What will be Tested?

The Specialty Training Curriculum for Medical Oncology is published by the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB). It is important to note that the SCE examination is made up of questions covering the whole curriculum, selected by a predetermined blueprint. Candidates are tested on a wide range of common and important disorders as set out in the syllabus of the curriculum.

The composition of the paper, which is made up of a total of 200 questions, is as follows:

  • Breast cancer 14
  • Colorectal and anal cancer 14
  • Lung and thoracic cancer 14
  • Carcinoma of unknown origin 7
  • Ovarian cancer 7
  • Germ cell tumours 7
  • Oesophagogastric cancer 6
  • Lymphoma 3
  • Uterine cancer 3
  • Hepatobiliary cancer 5
  • Skin cancer 5
  • Sarcoma 5
  • Leukaemia 1
  • Prostate cancer 3
  • Urothelial cancer 3
  • Cervical cancer 3
  • Head and neck cancer 2
  • CNS cancer 2
  • Renal cell cancer 3
  • Endocrine cancer 2
  • Scientific basis of malignancy 18
  • Professional skills 14
  • Acute oncology 20
  • Clinical research, Ethics and economics 8 Systemic anticancer therapy 18
  • Supportive therapies and palliative care 10
  • Standard operating procedures 3

How do I prepare?

Preparation for the SCE Medical Oncology requires a wide breadth of knowledge around the curriculum and should involve reading of textbooks, journals and guidelines. Of course, as per all of the SCE’s, experience of the MRCP(UK) examination provides an excellent background to the format of the examination.

Below is a comprehensive list, published by the Royal College of Physicians, of recommended sources and reading for those preparing for the SCE;

1) Guidelines

  • British Journal of Cancer 2009 March 100 (5) 684–692 Jones et al – guidelines for Herceptin modification
  • British Thoracic Society (BTS) - pleural disease guidelines
  • International Prognostic Index score for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) - guidelines for follicular lymphoma
  • NHS Cancer Screening – guidelines for bowel and other cancer

Bone health:

  • National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) – interpretation of bone mineral density
  • Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) – Osteoporosis guidelines

2) Textbooks

Information on genetics and some basic science can be found in the Oxford Desk Reference of Oncology 2011.

3) Sample questions

One of our best tips when revising for any exam, is to practice some sample questions and mock exams. Considering this, when preparing for your SCE in Medical Oncology, we would advise utilising the archive of sample questions available on the RCP Website. Here you can access some sample multiple choice questions, which are in the ‘best of five’ multiple choice format. This format, in addition to testing core knowledge and comprehension, also assesses the ability to interpret information and to solve clinical problems. There will be five options – one correct answer and four alternatives to the correct answer. The four distractors will be closely related to the preferred option but less correct, therefore acting as plausible alternatives.

These questions give an indication of the type of question you can expect in the SCE exam. To access the mock papers and sample questions, register using your RCP login here.


It’s important to note that taking the MRCP SCE will not grant you GMC Registration alone. Whilst the SCEs are a certificate of excellence, you must also have your GMC approved post graduate qualification –in most cases you will pair your SCE with your MRCP.

Specialty Certificate Examinations (SCE) look fantastic on your CV and will certainly help you stand out when applying for NHS jobs. If you have your MRCP and you’re now looking at sitting your SCE, or if you have already completed your SCE and you’re ready to begin your job Medical Oncology job search in the NHS then we can certainly help. We have a fantastic specialist at BDI Resourcing, who is an expert in the field of Medical Oncology recruitment. Do get in touch and send your CV to: [email protected]


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