Cancer survivorship symposium welcomes patients, caregivers, providers and researchers in South Carolina

April 01, 2024
image of colorful awareness ribbons superimposed over globe with hands holding them up
With 26 million cancer survivors expected by 2040, there's a need for research into how best to support survivors who may be living with financial, psychosocial or physical side effects. Image by Adobe Stock

Cancer providers, researchers, survivors and caregivers will come together during National Cancer Survivor Month this June for the 1st Annual Hollings SCOR Cancer Survivorship Symposium to learn about the latest developments in survivorship and cancer care delivery.

The Survivorship and Cancer Outcomes Research (SCOR) Initiative at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is hosting this event as a resource for anyone in South Carolina connected with cancer.

“As we see the number of cancer survivors increase, thanks to advances in screening, early detection and treatment, there has been a corresponding need to elevate cancer survivorship research to address critical unanswered questions for how to best care for this growing population,” said Evan Graboyes, M.D., founding director of SCOR.

“Estimates are that there will be 26 million cancer survivors in the U.S. by 2040. It’s incredible to see so many people not only surviving but living for quite a long time after being diagnosed with a disease that people wouldn’t even name out loud a few generations ago. And yet, we know that many cancer survivors deal with toxicity and side effects of cancer and the treatment for the rest of their lives. As survivors are living longer, it is increasingly important to advance research in health promotion activities for these patients, including tobacco cessation, vaccinations, exercise and nutrition. SCOR was started to provide a research base to advance our understanding of how to prevent and manage toxicity from cancer treatment, coordinate care delivery to this complex patient population and promote health in cancer survivors and their caregivers.”

Some of the lingering effects that cancer survivors may deal with include:


  • The financial burden of cancer care due to direct out-of-pocket costs for treatment, transportation and lodging as well as indirect costs due to lost wages of patients and caregivers.


  • Fear of the cancer returning.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Body-image distress: negative changes in self-image due to appearance or function-related changes from cancer and its treatment.
  • Changes to sexuality and intimacy.


  • Fatigue.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Neuropathy: a tingling, burning or numbness because of nerve damage, most often in the hands or feet.
  • Cognitive dysfunction (chemo brain), which results in trouble remembering, concentrating and/or thinking clearly.
  • Lymphedema: a painful swelling after removal of lymph nodes, often in the arms, legs or face and neck.
  • Heart damage.
  • Infertility.

Graboyes, a head and neck surgical oncologist, became increasingly interested in survivorship as he saw his patients and their caregivers grapple with the devastating physical, psychosocial and financial effects of cancer and its treatments.

Capitalizing on the growing nucleus of clinicians and researchers at Hollings interested in survivorship, Hollings leadership launched SCOR in 2022, with a founding mission to promote health among cancer survivors and their caregivers through clinical care, research and education.

Graboyes is clear to note that although fostering transformative research in cancer survivorship, outcomes and care delivery is a central mission pillar for SCOR, the program has a clinical focus to enhance the delivery of evidence-based, equitable and patient-centered care for cancer survivors treated at Hollings as well as educating and inspiring the next generation of survivorship researchers.

SCOR is a highly multidisciplinary and collaborative venture, involving clinical and research members from multiple departments within the College of Medicine as well as the MUSC Colleges of Nursing and Health Professions. The inaugural SCOR Survivorship Symposium seeks to bring together a vibrant community from MUSC and across the state to share and discuss the latest in survivorship research and clinical care.

This year’s keynote speaker is Frank J. Penedo, Ph.D., associate director for Cancer Survivorship and Translational Behavioral Sciences and the Sylvester DCC Living Proof Endowed Chair in Cancer Survivorship at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Penedo’s research examines how the culture, community, health behaviors and social attitudes affect health outcomes, and he evaluates psychosocial interventions to help people to manage chronic conditions, including cancer, more effectively.

Joining Penedo will be Michelle Mollica, Ph.D., R.N., deputy director of the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship. Mollica, an oncology-certified nurse, focuses on the transition from treatment to survivorship, models of survivorship and palliative care, integration of oncology and non-oncology providers and special survivorship populations, including individuals living with advanced and metastatic cancers, cancer caregivers and pediatric and adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.

Additional presenters from Hollings and around the state will be announced in the coming weeks to complement these keynote speakers.

The symposium, slated for June 4 at the Segra Club at Riley Park, is open to MUSC and non-MUSC providers, researchers, survivors and caregivers alike.

“We’re very excited to launch the first SCOR symposium. Bringing people together around this issue has been the goal since we started, and we hope that research happening here at Hollings and elsewhere in the country will improve the lives of cancer survivors today and in the future,” Graboyes said.