Hollings Headlines // September 2020
Not his first rodeo — new cancer center director sizes up challenges
Here, Dr. Raymond N. DuBois talks about what his days raising steers in Texas taught him about seizing opportunities and what his plans are to advance cancer care and research at Hollings. And, below are two opinion pieces you won't want to miss about the impact of COVID-19 on cancer screenings and care.
Did you know?

Researchers estimate that mammograms, a crucial tool for early detection of breast cancer, have dropped anywhere from 75% to 95% since March 2020. Pandemic-related screening delays could cause an excess of 10,000 deaths over the next 10 years. It’s time to reverse the trend.

Dr. DuBois speaks out about the importance of cancer screenings in this opinion piece in The Cancer Letter and in AACR’s Cancer Prevention Research journal. 
Celebrating Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!
Researcher gets special surprise on call

Dr. Jezabel R. Blanco was thrilled to be the recipient of a prestigious national award to fund her pediatric cancer research. Even more special, though, was when she heard who was on the call to tell her about the award. It was breathtaking, she recalls.
Our MUSC Health Blood and Marrow Transplant Program keeps pulling in the awards. The Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) reports that the MUSC Health Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program is among the top 10% of transplant centers that have exceeded predicted survival rates and one of only six that have achieved such excellence as a combined adult and pediatric program.

Dr. Michelle Hudspeth, BMT program director, is humbled by the news.
“This really is a national recognition of excellence, comparing all of the 170 programs across the U.S., and at the end of the day, the outcomes are what matter to our patients. Earning this distinction highlights our singular focus on getting the right thing done for the patient and places us in a very elite group of centers,” says Hudspeth. “Our program is considered medium-sized and is the only program in this category designated as an over-performing center.”
Going High Tech
Check out these stories that show how our health care providers and researchers are responding to the need to go high tech given the demands of modern-day society and the pandemic.
  • Crossing the digital divide: New technologies link treatments to the patients who need them the most. In many cases, remote clinical trials could offer an answer. A suite of new technologies enables researchers in Charleston to reach out to smokers throughout the state, including those in rural areas hardest hit by smoking.

  • With a research conference to plan in the midst of a pandemic, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher Denis Guttridge, Ph.D., wrestled with the same things other colleagues across the nation are as well — how to do business as usual and enable scientists to network despite it all. See his lessons learned in this story.
Pushing advances to address health disparities
The American Association for Cancer Research released its inaugural Cancer Disparities Progress Report: Achieving the Bold Vision of Health Equity for Racial and Ethnic Minorities and Other Underserved Populations. MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D., not only contributed to this first-of-its-kind report as a member of the steering committee, but she was also part of the virtual congressional briefing that unveiled the report to the nation. Check out the findings.
In case you missed it

A new volume of health disparities research, coedited by Hollings researcher Marvella Ford, Ph.D., was recently published. Ford hopes the research will lead to better health outcomes for cancer patients, especially those who are disproportionately affected by cancer.
Taking aim at treatment delays
Cancer of the head and neck is one of the deadliest cancers, with African Americans in particular experiencing significant disparities in mortality. A Hollings research team, led by Evan Graboyes, M.D., is studying the barriers that result in treatment delays and is working on ways to help patients overcome these obstacles and improve outcomes.
Making a difference
Hollings Cancer Center celebrates rise in HPV vaccination rates
“The change we saw this year was extraordinary,” said Dr. Kathleen Cartmell, who leads the Hollings HPV initiative. The HPV vaccine, which requires two doses, saw an 8% increase in vaccine initiation and 12% increase in vaccination completion.

“While we saw a similar big jump in our HPV vaccination rates back in 2016, the increase we saw this year is phenomenal, considering that having these big increases many years in a row is what will be needed to get our HPV vaccination rates up to 80%, which is the national goal set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Thank You!
To our front-line workers and those working behind the scenes as well to make care at Hollings seamless throughout this pandemic.

Betty Jordan (left), one of our Phlebotomy tech-team leads, Shelitta Warren (right) and colleagues make sure patients get their lab work done in a safe and timely fashion. And Jose and Wendy Peréy keep dishing up cheer and good food at the Hollings Café.
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