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A Knowledge-Building Game for Exploring the Diagnosis of Cancer


Eric R. Sandhurst
Deparment of Biomedical Engineering
University of South Dakota
Jevin G. Meyerink
Department of Biomedical Engineering
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Steven Powell
Internal Medicine
University of South Dakota
Brooklyn K. VanDerWolde
Department of Mechanical Engineering
South Dakota State University
Adison A. Kleinsasser
Department of Computer Science
University of South Dakota
Thomas R. Vierhout
Sanford School of Medicine
Universtiy of South Dakota
Jessica L.S. Zylla
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of South Dakota
Madeline A. Valentin
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Universtiy of South Dakota


This case study is a role-playing game designed to guide students through the process of diagnosing five common types of cancer. Players roll a 20-sided die and receive information from various healthcare professionals in an oncology clinic setting. The value of the die roll correlates to the amount of information that students gather from nurses, pathologists, and radiologists. Students work together in teams to determine the type and location of the cancer. Upon completion of the game, students read through a mock doctor-patient dialogue written by an oncologist to provide a real-world connection to the information. Be advised that due to the nature of the activity, some information required to play the game is included in the teaching notes only. The case is best suited for students who understand the basics of cancer, typical medical procedures, typical hospital roles, and commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. This case study was developed for undergraduate students who are studying biology or medical biology in a nursing program or a pre-medicine program.


  • Identify types of cancers and the signs and symptoms of each cancer.
  • Recall typical demographics for various cancers.
  • Distinguish between different cancer types.
  • Relate the responsibilities of hospital staff to their correct roles.
  • Compare typical hospital roles and responsibilities.


Oncology; cancer; interactive exercise; game; diagnosis; medicine; teamwork; doctor; nurse; pathology; radiology; RPG

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Professional (degree program), Clinical education


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Directed, Discussion, Game/Simulation, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Genetics / Heredity  |   Medicine (General)  |   Nursing  |   Interdisciplinary Sciences  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The files below are used to run the case (see teaching notes for details and additional needed materials).

  Introductory PowerPoint Presentation
  Preparation Assignment
  Vocabulary Assignment (optional)

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.