Nestled in the heart of downtown Charleston is Hollings Cancer Center, a leader in cancer research and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in South Carolina. With more than 120 physicians and scientists driving the future of innovation, Hollings has been recognized for its depth and breadth of research. In order to receive the special NCI designation, the center passed a rigorous review process that included a deep look at its educational resources, scientific leadership and quality of research into basic, clinical and population science.
South Carolina ranks 14th in the nation in highest cancer death rates, making the need for community outreach and specialized programs an important area on which to focus. To support this work, the Hollings Cancer Center established a Community Outreach and Engagement Office that works closely with a Cancer Disparities Advisory Committee.
Up to 75% of new cancer cases and cancer deaths could have been prevented, with tobacco use, poor diet, lack of access to health care and lack of exercise as the primary causes. Also, in a state where more than 75% of people live in rural areas, it's important to continue to educate and interact in all 46 counties, each of them with areas designated as medically underserved.
Hollings hosts a variety of events to raise funds for cancer research, treatment and prevention programs, including the upcoming 24th annual Hollings Cancer Center Golf Tournament on Kiawah Island and next year's Gourmet & Grapes event. The action-packed golf tournament includes: breakfast, contests, lunch, drinks on the course, games and an awards party. Gourmet & Grapes offers a wide variety of exclusive food and wine events during a weekend on Kiawah Island. These events raise much-needed funds to support innovative cancer research, leading to better treatments and therapies for those who need them the most.
As the leading provider of breast cancer treatments in the Lowcountry, Roper St. Francis treats the highest number of breast cancer patients in the tri-county area. Its favorable outcomes and 5-year survival rates exceed those of state and local benchmarks. Another area Roper excels in is treating the country’s second leading cause of cancer death – colon cancer – which is often preventable and highly treatable if caught early. Meanwhile, the Hank and Laurel Greer Colorectal Cancer Program is the Lowcountry’s leader in treating most colorectal cancers, with highly-skilled surgeons who are internationally recognized for robotic colorectal surgery.
As a comprehensive health care system, Roper St. Francis Healthcare has more than 22 different departments and service lines to cover all of a patient's health care needs. It provides expert diagnosis and treatment for many different types of cancer, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer. There is almost a 90% chance of a cure if colon and rectal cancers are found early. The best patient outcomes rely heavily on thorough screening, early detection and proper diagnosis. Roper St. Francis uses a number of tests to screen for or diagnose colorectal cancer, including colonoscopies, imaging and fecal tests.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare is a sponsor of CaringBridge, a free nonprofit online service developed to keep friends and family connected when a loved one is receiving medical care. CaringBridge provides personal, protected websites where people can share updates during any type of health event. It also provides a planner that helps loved ones coordinate care and organize daily tasks, such as bringing a meal, taking care of pets or driving to appointments. Thanks to the compassion and generosity of donors and volunteers, CaringBridge is able to connect and serve millions of people every year.
1,200 cancer patients receive care from Trident Cancer Center each year. Because of the growing needs of the community, the center finished $6 million in upgrades in the fall of 2014. The facility got a complete interior makeover and added a serenity garden and a tranquility fountain. Of course, it also upgraded to the latest technology to make radiation treatments easier, faster and more effective.
One of the core focuses of Trident Cancer Center is providing radiation therapy and infusion, which can be used to administer chemotherapy drugs or other treatments into the bloodstream. Offering both services in one place helps provide greater continuity of care and can simplify the fight against cancer for patients. Trident Cancer Center is now connected with The Sarah Cannon Research Institute, providing access to a national group of oncologists who help provide a higher quality of care.
Trident also offers a free service called Consult-A-Nurse, which provides patients with physician referrals and health information. These nurses and referral specialists routinely help patients find a doctor and make an appointment, answer health care questions and register for classes and events along with many other services to provide education and assistance to patients.
On April 1 of this year, Trident Medical Center opened a brand-new, 14-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit. Each patient receives a private room and the latest in innovative rehabilitation technology. Patients with diagnoses and conditions including stroke, hip fracture, brain and spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders and major multiple trauma receive care in the new unit, where they can take advantage of high-quality rehabilitation services with an experienced rehabilitation nursing team and physical, speech and occupational therapists.
With more than 100 years of combined experience and four locations, the oncologists and hematologists at Charleston Oncology diagnose and treat cancers and blood disorders of all kinds. They maintain a CLIA-certified lab as well, with certified lab technicians and phlebotomists who are experienced in handling patients in an oncology setting. They process lab results quickly and efficiently so the physician can review them immediately.
Charleston Oncology also offers participation in clinical trials, which gives patients the opportunity to become involved in the research of a drug that otherwise might not be available. These additional treatment options also come with the possibility of free medication and contribute to medical science, helping current and future patients.
Whether or not a clinical trial is right for a patient depends on a number of factors, including medical condition and medical history. Not every disease has a clinical trial at Charleston Oncology, but it is offering an increasing number of trials as time goes on.
Charleston Oncology now has the FDA-approved DigniCap system for women with breast cancer. The machine works by cooling the scalp, reducing the blood flow to that area so less chemotherapy reaches the hair cells, thus reducing hair loss. Before this system was in place, patients were required to use manual cold caps kept in freezers and dry ice, changing them every 30 minutes to ensure their scalp would remain chilled. Although its not covered by insurance, patients can now sit comfortably in their chairs with a fitted cap for the duration of their treatment.