the word together written on a chalk board with multicolored stick figures holding hands below

Outreach & Engagement

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center recognizes the best way it can help South Carolina's residents is by relieving the burden of cancer in our state. Through our community outreach efforts, we aim to accomplish this by offering the highest quality patient care, innovative research, outstanding professional education, and statewide cancer prevention programs with a focus on reaching underserved populations.

The statistics reveal the need. The state is among the top 20 for the death rate of cancer. Nearly 34,000 people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with cancer in 2023, and more than 11,000 people in the state are expected to die of cancer.

Additionally, cancer incidence rates in the state are higher among Black people than white people for several cancer types, and mortality rates are extraordinarily high compared to the rate of incidence. There is also a disparity in cancer outcomes between rural and urban populations.

Among all South Carolinians, up to 75% of new cancer cases and deaths are caused by preventable lifestyle factors — such as tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of exercise — and limited access to health care.

Hollings leads outreach efforts in every county in South Carolina and we continue to expand the reach of our programs to serve more people across the state.

South Carolina map showing community outreach activities by county with every county served by at least 1 program

Leading the Way

Dr. Marvella Ford

Marvella E. Ford, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Population Science and Community Outreach and Engagement

Community outreach efforts at Hollings are led by Marvella E. Ford, Ph.D. As a behavioral scientist with expertise in cancer disparities research, Ford is nationally known for developing novel and effective approaches to reducing health disparities. She oversees the development of community-based programs to effectively deliver cancer education and screening services across South Carolina.

Dr. Ford was recognized by Modern Healthcare as a Top 25 Diversity Leader in Healthcare for 2023. This recognition places Dr. Ford in an elite group of leaders who are implementing strategies and practices to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and truly impacting the communities they serve.

logo that says Modern Healthcare Top 25 - Top Diversity Leaders 2023

Hazel Breland

Hazel Breland, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Population Science and Community Outreach and Engagement

Ford is assisted by Hazel Breland, Ph.D. She is by practice an occupational therapy practitioner, educator, and scholar with an interest in community-based advocacy and health disparities. Breland's research activities include the translation of effective patient-centered, community-based research interventions into clinically relevant practice for people in medically underserved areas.

Ford and Breland lead a growing Community Outreach and Engagement Office that works closely with a Community Advisory Board. The board provides a forum for ongoing discussions about collaborative science and community programs to address health disparities.

The goal is to set the standards for removing barriers and improving cancer care for Black people and other minorities as well as other underserved populations, including those in rural areas. This is particularly critical for a state like South Carolina, where all 46 counties contain areas designated as medically underserved.

Our Programs

Prevention & Screenings

Through a variety of screening programs and educational events, we’re here to equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to understand and minimize your risk of developing cancer.

Smoking Cessation

Hollings supports ongoing tobacco research, resources, and counseling services for smokers, and a Lung Cancer Screening Program along with specific initiatives for cancer patients in our care.

HPV Vaccination

Dedicated to the mission of raising HPV vaccination rates, Hollings has an ongoing initiative to engage and educate health care organizations, parents, and adolescents about the vaccine.

Mobile Health Unit

Through partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers, churches, community centers, and employers, our mobile health unit provides cancer screening and education services to communities in all 46 counties across the state.

SC AMEN Program

The SC AMEN Program aims to reduce prostate cancer disparities by increasing screening rates among African American men aged 40–69 in the state through patient education, navigation to screening, and follow-up.

Statewide Commitments

Hollings partners with HBCUs around the state to offer education and training programs for students interested in pursuing a career in cancer research.

Education & Awareness

Hollings offers a variety of community-based educational programs to empower people to be advocates in their own communities.