Hollings Cancer Center recognizes the best way it can help the state’s residents is by relieving the burden of cancer in our state.
The statistics reveal the need. For all cancers combined, the state ranks 14th among the nation with the highest cancer death rates.
Community and Outreach efforts at Hollings Cancer Center are led by Marvella E. Ford, Ph.D., associate director of Population Science and Cancer Disparities. As a behavioral scientist with expertise in cancer disparities research, Ford is nationally known for developing novel and effective approaches to reducing health disparities. Ford oversees the development of community-based programs to effectively deliver cancer education and screening services across South Carolina.
To support this work, Hollings Cancer Center established a Community Outreach and Engagement Office that works closely with a Cancer Disparities Advisory Committee. The groups provide a forum for ongoing discussions about collaborative science to address health disparities. The goal is to set the standards for removing barriers and improving cancer care for African-Americans and other minorities, and other underserved populations. This is particularly critical for a state that has more than 75 percent of our people living in rural areas. All 46 counties contain areas designated as medically underserved.
All these community outreach efforts support the mission of Hollings Cancer Center, which is to reduce the cancer burden in South Carolina through the highest quality patient care, innovative research, outstanding professional education and statewide cancer prevention programs with a focus on reaching underserved populations.
Nearly 30,000 people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Nearly one third of those diagnosed are expected to die from cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the state, as well as the nation. The state’s incidence and/or mortality rates for many cancers are higher than in the nation at large, including cancers of the prostate, female breast, lung, skin, kidney, pancreatic, oropharynx, uterine cervix and esophagus.
Contributing to the state’s higher cancer rates is racial disparity, notably between African-Americans and whites. Mortality rates for several of the South Carolina’s most prevalent cancers are significantly higher among African-Americans.
How South Carolina compares to national cancer mortality rates
In South Carolina, cancer mortality rates are higher among African-Americans than whites for several cancer types. Compared to national rates, South Carolina’ cancer mortality is among the top ten for esophageal, prostate, pancreatic and head and neck cancers. The graph above shows the disparate rates between African-Americans and whites in South Carolina.
There are socioeconomic and complex cultural, geographic and potentially biological factors related to the incidence of cancer and mortality rates. Among all South Carolinians, up to 75 percent of new cancer cases and cancer deaths are caused by preventable lifestyle factors, such as tobacco use, poor diet, lack of exercise and limited access to health care.
Hollings in the Community
Through the South Carolina Continuing Umbrella of Research Experience (SC CURE), high school sophomores and juniors at Burke High School learn first-hand about cancer research and health disparities.