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Joseph D. Shih
Assistant Professor of Biology
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
University of Saint Mary
Diagnosing and Treating Charlie’s Strange Spots 

This case study introduces a patient who comes into a doctor's office with an interesting set of symptoms that leads to an exotic cancer diagnosis. The case provides students with an opportunity to identify and classify patient information (signs, symptoms, history, etc.), explore online medical literature, construct and justify a differential diagnosis, evaluate diagnostic tests, and debate the benefits and risks of various cancer treatment options. The story is drawn from a real-life scenario, although certain details have been modified to preserve anonymity. The case was originally developed for an upper-level undergraduate immunology course for pre-health students who have taken cell biology as a prerequisite. It is suitable for any upper-level undergraduate pre-health (pre-med, pre-nursing, medical laboratory science) or first-year graduate health (physician assistant, medical, nursing, etc.) course in which clinical case studies are appropriate and cancer is a potential topic, such as immunology, clinical immunology, physiology, or pathophysiology.