Cancer care in Charleston, SC
Over the past three decades, Trident Health System has joined our community in the fight against cancer. Trident Health's cancer care program offers the highest-caliber cancer treatments, technology and support services, all close to home.
A focal point for our program is Trident Cancer Center, located within Trident Medical Center in North Charleston. Trident Cancer Center is an outpatient facility that provides radiation therapy and infusion.
We'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about our cancer care program – call us at (843) 847-4571.
The American College of Radiology (ACR) serves patients by empowering healthcare providers to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care. Earning ACR accreditation indicates a provider consistently meets the high standards of best practices. We are proud to have earned ACR accreditation for Trident Cancer Center and Trident Breast Care Center, which also earned recognition a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by achieving accreditation in breast imaging modalities.
Our cancer care services
Trident Health offers a range of traditional and innovative services in its cancer program, including:
- Comprehensive screening to detect cancer in its early stages and begin treatment quickly
- Advanced treatment technologies to minimize the impact on daily life
- High-dose radiation treatments for breast and gynecologic cancers that can be completed within a week
- Support for patients throughout their treatment journey, including access to a nurse navigator who will be by your side each step of the way
Head and neck cancer care
What we treat
Our team of physicians and specialists provide care for benign and malignant tumors in the head and neck region. We treat patients with:
- Skin cancer (including complex skin cancers not treatable by Mohs surgery)
- Parathyroid adenomas
- Oral cancer (cancers of the mouth)
- Throat cancer
- Voice box cancer
- Salivary gland tumors
- Skull base tumors (in the sinuses, ears, eyes, or around the base of the skull)
How we care for our patients
Our treatments aren’t one size fits all. Our multidisciplinary team uses the following treatment options to create customized care plans:
- Surgery (including robotic and minimally invasive procedures)
- Radiation therapy
- Complex microvascular reconstructive surgery
- Skull base surgery
- Clinical trials for patients who have not had success with prior treatments
- Cosmetic, functional, chewing and dental rehabilitation
- Oral and maxillofacial prosthetics and prosthodontics
- Speech and swallowing therapy
- Survivor support
- Weekly multidisciplinary tumor board to customize care for each patient
Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers include:
- A lump in the neck
- Voice changes
- A growth in the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in the skin
- Earache that does not go away
Lung cancer care
We offer procedures for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. As the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer has a significant impact on the person diagnosed and their support system. Our staff and physicians follow patient- and family-centered care principles, using every resource available to treat all types of lung cancer while offering comprehensive support.
Lung cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms in its early stage. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- A new cough that doesn't go away
- Coughing up blood, even a small amount
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Bone pain
Lung cancer screenings
Trident Medical Center offers low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screenings for patients to enhance early detection of lung cancer and reduce mortality among smokers.
According to a National Cancer Institute study, using LDCT scans to screen smokers for lung cancer reduces the risk of death by 20 percent compared to those screened by a chest X-ray.
High-risk individuals must meet the following criteria:
- Patients must be between 50 and 80 years old
- Patient must currently be a smoker or quit within the last 15 years
- Patient smoked 20 or more packs per year
If you meet the criteria for a lung cancer screening, contact your doctor for a referral. After you receive the referral, you can make an appointment by calling central scheduling at (877) 357-0156.
Breast cancer care
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women, but early detection means a better likelihood of beating it. At Trident Medical Center, our Breast Center of Excellence status ensures we offer patients access to high-quality imaging services.
Breast cancer symptoms can include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Swelling in a part of the breast
- Redness or flaky skin on the breast
- Nipple discharge
Breast cancer screenings and diagnostics
We offer patients access to screenings to evaluate their breast health and detect breast cancer through mammograms and ultrasounds.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It helps detect tumors that are too small to feel with a manual exam. There are different recommendations on mammogram screening guidelines. Generally, women who are between 40 and 74 years old with an average risk of developing breast cancer should get annual mammograms.
For your convenience, we offer online mammogram scheduling.
An ultrasound helps doctors look for tumors that may not be detected with X-rays. Radiologists at Trident Breast Care Center use automated breast ultrasound (ABUS), which can find up to 30 percent more cancers in women with dense breast tissue.
About 40 percent of women have dense breasts, which is a risk factor for breast cancer. Dense breasts can be up to six times more likely to develop breast cancer, and cancerous tumors are more difficult to find on regular mammograms.
Prostate cancer care
More than 10 percent of men will be affected by prostate cancer, but when caught early, has a very high survival right. As part of Trident Health's urologic services, our urologists collaborate with our oncologists to provide advanced treatment options for prostate cancer.
Gynecologic oncology cancer
We offer dedicated care for patients with gynecologic cancers or pre-cancers. We treat gynecologic cancers, which include vulvar, vaginal, cervical, uterine, fallopian tube, ovarian and primary peritoneal cancers. Additionally, we treat gynecologic pre-cancers, including vulvar dysplasia, vaginal dysplasia, cervical dysplasia and uterine hyperplasia.
When possible, we use minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgical techniques to help our patients experience less pain and a faster recovery. Our specialized services for treating gynecologic cancers include:
- Bowel and urinary tract resection, diversion and reconstruction
- Cervical loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cold knife conization to remove cancerous cells from the cervix and vagina
- Hysterectomy to remove the uterus
- Pelvic exenteration to remove the organs within the pelvic cavity
- Pelvic, para-aortic and inguinal lymph node dissection to identify the stage and spread of cancer
- Radical cytoreductive surgery for advanced cancers
- Salpingo-oophorectomy to surgically remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes
- Vaginectomy to remove the vagina and close its opening
- Vesico-vaginal and recto-vaginal fistula repair to correct any abnormal openings between organs
- Vulvectomy to remove the outer reproductive organs (vulva)
When to call a gynecologic oncologist
Any woman who has received a gynecologic cancer diagnosis should seek the expertise of a gynecologic oncologist. Some gynecologic cancers do not produce any symptoms and can only be detected with a PAP smear, blood work or biopsy. However, the following symptoms may be signs that you should seek medical attention:
- Abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, bleeding after intercourse, bleeding after menopause and unusually heavy or prolonged bleeding
- Constantly feeling swollen, bloated or full or ongoing gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea or constipation
- Feeling very tired all of the time or shortness of breath
- Frequent, urgent, difficult or painful urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain, pressure or a mass in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
- Severe burning, itching or pain in the genital area
- Skin changes on the vulva
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual vaginal discharge or discharge with an unusual color or odor
Types of cancer we treat
Our team provides care for several types of cancer, including:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gynecologic cancers, including
- Cervical cancer
- Fallopian tube cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Primary peritoneal cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Head and neck cancers
- Lung cancer
- Oral and throat cancers
- Urologic cancers, including
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
Cancer treatment options
We use several different treatments for cancer. Some may be used solely, while other cancers are treated with a combination of therapies for the best results.
Medical oncology is the diagnosis and treatment of cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy.
A medical oncologist often becomes involved during the initial evaluation of a cancer patient. They use diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing to define the type and extent (stage) of cancer. Then they determine a treatment plan best suited to the patient’s needs.
Radiation oncology, also called radiation therapy, involves treating disease using high-energy imaging methods to either kill cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing. Patients requiring radiation therapy can be assured of the most up-to-date technology at Trident Cancer Center.
We use the following radiation therapy tools to target cancer cells:
Trident Health System uses a linear accelerator to tailor treatments to a patient's particular case and type of cancer. Its advanced radiotherapy system can deliver higher doses of radiation at great speed so that most treatments can be given in just minutes. A radiosurgery system delivers higher doses to smaller areas, allowing treatment of the most challenging cases.
Radiation implants (brachytherapy)
Brachytherapy uses radioactive implants to eliminate cancer cells, including those that may be left once a tumor has been removed. This method ensures the maximum radiation dose is tightly focused around the cancer or the tumor site while minimizing side effects to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Brachytherapy may be used by itself or in coordination with conventional radiation treatments.
For breast and gynecologic cancers, including cervical, uterine and endometrial cancer, high-dose radiation (HDR) brachytherapy is more common. HDR treatments can be completed in days, rather than weeks, which is how long conventional radiation treatments usually take.
In the case of prostate and breast cancer, for example, the implants are usually radioactive seeds or pellets that are positioned through a catheter with computer-guided controls. HDR implants are temporary.
Prostate cancer may be treated with HDR brachytherapy or low-dose radiation (LDR) brachytherapy. LDR implants release radiation over a longer period of time and may be permanent. Brachytherapy can be an alternative to surgical removal of the prostate.
Surgery is often used to diagnose or remove cancer. Trident Health offers surgical services for cancer through its hospitals and the Trident Surgery Center, which specializes in same-day surgery.
Robotic surgery can be used for some cancer surgeries. It may provide a variety of benefits including greater precision, less scarring and faster recovery.
Plastic surgeons can provide reconstructive and cosmetic procedures following surgery and treatments for various types of cancer. For breast cancer patients, Trident Health offers an advanced breast reconstruction program based at Summerville Medical Center that focuses on natural tissue reconstruction.
Inpatient cancer services
Trident Medical Center has a 21-bed inpatient unit for cancer and blood diseases. Highly skilled nurses hold chemotherapy and biotherapy certification and take a holistic approach to heal. Families are welcome to stay with their loved ones.
When patients are admitted, in-depth assessments are taken to meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Our multidisciplinary approach to patient care can incorporate various support services, including:
Our inpatient oncology unit can be reached at (843) 847-4400.
Outpatient cancer services
Trident Cancer Center is an outpatient center providing radiation therapy and infusion, which can administer chemotherapy drugs or other treatments into the bloodstream. Offering radiation and infusion in one location can provide greater continuity of care and simplify the fight against cancer for patients.
Getting a cancer diagnosis can be frightening and overwhelming. Through Trident Health, nurse navigators are available to help patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment. They provide emotional support by visiting patients at appointments, assessing patients' needs and serving as a liaison between patients and their doctors.