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 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 15th in the nation with the highest cancer death rates. Nearly 32,000 people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and more than one-third of those diagnosed are expected to die from their cancer.

Additionally, cancer incidence rates in the state are higher among African Americans than whites for several cancer types, and mortality rates are extraordinarily high compared to the rate of incidence.

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, lack of exercise, and limited access to health care.

Through our community outreach efforts, we aim to reduce the cancer burden in South Carolina by offering the highest quality patient care, innovative research, outstanding professional education, and statewide cancer prevention programs with a focus on reaching underserved populations.

South Carolina map showing Hollings outreach, screening, and oncology locations across the state along with the number of patients from each county

Leading the Way

Dr. Marvella Ford

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. She oversees the development of community-based programs to effectively deliver cancer education and screening services across South Carolina.

To support this work, Hollings 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 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

Education & Awareness

Hollings offers a wide variety of community-based educational programs for the public and disparities-related research for students interested in pursuing a career in cancer research.

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.


Our more than 120 researchers are committed to understanding and developing interventions that minimize cancer outcome disparities among our diverse communities.

Public Policy

Current ongoing public policy initiatives include overcoming the barriers to effectively implement HPV vaccination in the state and strengthening the state's weak tobacco control climate.

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 initiated a $700,000, three-year project to engage and educate health care organizations, parents, and adolescents about the vaccine.

Mobile Health Unit

Through partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers, churches, community centers, and employers, our mobile health unit provides cancer screening and education services to communities in 27 counties across the state.