Medical Oncology

The Cancer Center at South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) provides medical oncology services. Oncology is the study and treatment of cancer. There are three main areas of oncology: medical, surgical, and radiological. Surgical oncology is the use of invasive surgery to remove cancer; radiation oncology uses high-energy x-rays or proton beams to destroy cancer.

Medical oncology treats cancer through the administration of chemotherapy and other medications, such as targeted therapies. The medical oncology professionals at the Cancer Center at SCOA have extensive training and expertise in the administration of chemotherapy and other therapies used to treat cancer.

SCOA Provides Medical Oncology in Columbia, SC

A medical oncologist oversees a patient’s care from the cancer diagnosis through the course of the disease. Depending on the type of cancer a patient has, one of our medical oncologists at SCOA may recommend chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy or a combination of these therapies. Each of these cancer treatments works in a slightly different way.

Medical oncology often includes chemotherapy, or “chemo” for short. Chemo uses cytotoxic drugs to destroy cancer cells or slow their reproduction. Hormone therapy, also known as hormonal therapy or endocrine therapy, removes, blocks or adds hormones to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. Biological therapy, sometimes called immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Targeted therapy pinpoints specific genes, proteins and other molecules that contribute to cancer growth and survival.

Our goal is to provide exceptional cancer care in a friendly, compassionate, and comfortable environment. The Cancer Center at SCOA provides advanced state of the art treatment for all forms of cancer. Our team of cancer care providers includes highly trained and experienced medical oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncology certified nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Our caring and compassionate staff works to develop and deliver an individualized treatment program for each patient in our care.


Chemotherapy Services

The Cancer Center at South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) provides chemotherapy cancer treatment.

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy healthy tissue nearby. Cancer can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy, or “chemo” for short, is the use of chemicals to kill cancer cells. Other therapies used to treat cancer include hormonal therapy, immune therapy and targeted therapy. Treatment decisions are based on the diagnosis, cancer stage and overall health of the patient. The goal of cancer treatment is to stop cancer from spreading, slow the growth of cancer, relieve symptoms caused by cancer or cure cancer.

What You Can Expect During Chemotherapy at SCOA

SCOA provides comprehensive cancer care by offering chemotherapy, pharmacy, laboratory and other services in one convenient location.

At SCOA we understand navigating all the information that comes with a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Before your first chemotherapy session, we will schedule you for a chemo teaching appointment with an oncology certified nurse, who is dedicated to educating and empowering cancer patients and their caregivers. During this one on one education hour you will learn specific details about your treatment as it pertains to your individual care. As with our other oncology services as SCOA, we create personalized chemotherapy care plans for every patient we see.

Your visit starts when you check into our reception area located downstairs in the SCOA facility, where you will also find our pharmacy, phlebotomy station for lab draws and chemotherapy infusion center.

After one of our skilled phlebotomists draws your blood for lab work, a member of our nursing staff will measure and record your weight and vital signs. With the preliminary work behind you, you can begin your chemotherapy in our comfortable infusion center.

Because we value your time and want to reduce waiting time whenever possible, SCOA has 100 chairs in our chemotherapy infusion center. Your comfort is also important to us, so we offer amenities such as blanket warmers, a refreshment center and free Wi-Fi.

Chemotherapy Cycles

For optimal effectiveness, oncology physicians typically schedule chemotherapy treatments in repeating cycles. The length of a treatment cycle and number of cycles given varies according to the specific diagnosis and the chemotherapy drugs administered.

Cycles typically range from two to six weeks. Most patients undergo several cycles of chemotherapy.

The oncology physicians, oncology certified nurses and other healthcare professionals at SCOA have extensive training and expertise in the administration of chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer.

Radiation Oncology

The Cancer Center at South Carolina Oncology Associates performs radiation oncology in Columbia, SC.

Radiation oncology harnesses the power of ionizing radiation, which consists of highly energized particles, X-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. SCOA offers several cutting edge radiation oncology technologies for cancer treatment in Columbia.

The radiation oncologists at SCOA are board-certified experts in the evaluation and treatment of cancer. Our radiation oncologists work with medical physicists, dosimetrists and nurses and therapists as part of a highly sought-after cancer fighting team. SCOA radiation oncologists work closely with medical oncologists, who provide treatment with chemotherapy and other types of therapy. This team approach to cancer care allows our radiation oncologists to treat cancer in the most effective and aggressive manner possible without compromising patient safety.

Radiation Oncology Technologies for Cancer Care in Columbia

Continuous improvements in technologies and techniques have revolutionized radiation oncology, and SCOA has been the pacesetter in radiation oncology in South Carolina and much of the Southeast. SCOA was one of the first South Carolina oncology centers to implement revolutionary radiation therapy treatments, such as:

  • B-Mode Acquisition and Targeting system, a sophisticated three-dimensional tracking system that helps to localize tumors that sometimes move in between treatments.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, a new radiation oncology technology that delivers radiation more precisely to the tumor while sparing healthy tissue nearby.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy,the use of imaging during radiation to help localize tumors that move.
  • Volumetric Arc Therapy, or VMAT, which can deliver a dose of radiation to the entire tumor in a single in a 360-degree rotation, unlike conventional IMRT treatments that must make repeated stops and starts to deliver several smaller doses.
  • Sterotactic Body Radiation Therapy, or SBRT, which administers very high doses of radiation, using several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles to precisely target a tumor.

SCOA is one of a limited number of private practices with access to Gamma Knife technology, which uses precise beams of radiation to destroy tumors of the brain, head and neck. Our SCOA radiation oncologists and medical physicists work with neurosurgeons in South Carolina to provide care at the Gamma Knife Center of the Carolinas. There, they treat brain tumors, vascular abnormalities affecting blood vessels, and other neurologic conditions. Because the Gamma Knife uses beams of radiation rather than complicated invasive surgery, patients can undergo treatment as outpatients and avoid a lengthy hospital stay.

Our radiation oncologists use IMRT, IGRT, VMAT, SBRT, and Gamma Knife to treat cancer with submillimeter accuracy. These precision therapies allow our cancer doctors to target a tumor while minimizing the effects of radiation on the surrounding tissue, which gives patients the best possible outcome and the shortest recovery time.

Gynecologic Oncology

South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) is the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in South Carolina providing gynecologic oncology, medical and radiation oncology, and other important patient services for cancer care – all under one roof.

The Cancer Center at SCOA offers gynecologic oncology, a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of women with cancer of the reproductive organs. When we incorporated gynecologic oncology into our practice, we wanted to provide a comprehensive care for women with this type of cancer. Our philosophy of dedicated, compassionate care remains intact today.

Providing Comprehensive Gynecologic Cancer Care

Board-certified specialists provide gynecologic oncology care at SCOA. Our team of highly trained cancer care specialists has the technologically advanced tools and experience to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer care in Columbia, SC. Our physicians use conventional, laparoscopic, and robotic surgical techniques to treat gynecologic tumors. When necessary, we also provide chemotherapy as treatment for cancer of the female reproductive system.

As leaders in the field, our gynecologic oncologists drive innovation in cancer care through advanced diagnostics, treatments, and cancer prevention efforts. Gynecologic oncologists are board-certified oncologists who have undergone three to four years of additional training in the treatment of gynecologic cancers.

Gynecologic cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. As with other types of cancer, gynecologic cancer can spread to other parts of the body. 

Treatment for gynecologic cancer is most effective when the cancer is found early. SCOA gynecologic oncologists utilize their training and expertise to try and identify and diagnose gynecologic cancer in its earliest stages.

Our oncology doctors treat patients with all types of gynecologic cancers, including the five main types:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar (the external opening of the vagina) cancer

At SCOA, we offer a full complement of oncology services, such as genetic counseling that helps women assess their risk of inherited cancer or the hereditary cancer risk in their family members, licensed social workers, and home health assistance.

Genetic Counseling

Certain conditions and diseases, including some types of cancer, are hereditary or inherited. It is important to determine if cancer is hereditary in a family as it is then more likely to affect relatives of affected individuals. Your oncologist at SCOA or primary care provider will usually determine if you are a candidate for genetic counseling.

At SCOA, the genetic counselor, who is board-certified in the field, may advise you about your risk for developing certain cancers, based on your family history. A genetic counselor may also provide information to an individual already affected with cancer regarding potential risk of developing other cancers in the future. A genetic counselor is an individual with a Masters’ level degree in Genetic Counseling or Human Genetics who is trained in providing:

  • Cancer Risk Assessment
  • Explanation of benefits, limitations and risks of genetic testing
  • Discussion of testing results put in the context of the patient’s history
  • Understanding of the implications of hereditary cancer for patient and the family
  • Roadmap for future medical management (surgery, screening, lifestyle)
  • Materials and other resources about hereditary cancer

Preparing for a Cancer Genetic Counseling Visit

At your first genetic counseling visit, the genetic counselor will gather some family history information, draw a three- to four-generation family history (or pedigree), documenting which relatives had cancer, the type of cancer they had, and the age at which they were diagnosed. During this part of the visit, the genetic counselor will perform a cancer risk assessment and determine if you are a candidate for genetic testing.

If you are a candidate for genetic testing, the genetic counselor at SCOA will work with you, your physician and your insurance company to coordinate your genetic testing. Most often, genetic testing is performed using a small sample of blood from your arm. When the results are available, the genetic counselor will work with you and your doctor to help put the information in context of your diagnosis.

The SCOA genetic counselor works alongside the SCOA oncologists and other medical professionals to offer cancer screening strategies along with prevention and treatment options. The SCOA genetic counselor offers caring and compassionate support for patients and families experiencing the emotional, psychological and social impact from a diagnosis of hereditary cancer.

South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) is the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in South Carolina that provides medical, radiation and gynecological oncology as well as important patient support services such as genetic counseling – all in one convenient location.

Diagnostic Imaging

A diagnostic imaging study is a non-invasive way to look inside the body to assist your physician with making a medical diagnosis. Various imaging machines create pictures of structures and activities occurring in your body. South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) performs on-site diagnostic imaging as a convenience for our patients. SCOA’s on-site facility is the area leader in diagnostic imaging.

Offering the Highest Level of Care in Diagnostic Imaging

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has awarded the SCOA imaging center full accreditation in computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET).

The ACR only awards accreditation to those facilities that demonstrate the highest practice standards. To earn ACR accreditation, a facility must undergo a rigorous peer-review evaluation of its practice. This means board-certified radiologists and medical physicists have reviewed our personnel qualifications, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs, and adequacy of facility equipment, and found that our facility provides the highest level of quality care.

Advanced Radiology Imaging at SCOA

In addition to CT and PET imaging, we offer a digital radiography suite, where the equipment uses digital X-ray sensors rather than traditional photographic film. This digital imaging technology is more efficient than traditional X-rays because it provides better image quality versus conventional x-ray. Digital radiography also allows us to use less radiation dose per image, and the ability to send the image(s) to your doctors via a computer which allows for faster results.

SCOA also offers bone densitometry, also known as bone density scanning. Bone densitometry is an enhanced form of X-ray technology that measures the density of your bones and helps your doctor determine if you have bone loss. Both bone density scanning and digital imaging provide important information about the health of your skeleton, which can help you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment.

Because SCOA has a full suite of diagnostic imaging technology on site, we can provide imaging results to patients faster than facilities without this technology. Shortening the time between capturing the image and providing results allows our doctors to start treatments earlier, when the condition may be more responsive to therapy.

SCOA has provided exceptional cancer care in Columbia for more than 40 years. Today, it remains the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in South Carolina that provides medical, radiation and gynecological oncology plus important patient support services like diagnostic radiology — all under one roof.

Lab Services

Laboratory tests help cancer doctors make accurate diagnoses, determine the effectiveness of your treatment, and monitor for side effects.

South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) offers immediate laboratory testing and quick results through our on-site facility, making life more convenient for you.

Our On-Site Lab Supports Exceptional Cancer Care

Our laboratory is CLIA certified, which means it passes stringent quality guidelines laid out by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment, a federal regulatory standard for clinical laboratories. The CLIA-certified lab at SCOA houses some of the most advanced clinical laboratory equipment available. We staff our laboratory with highly trained, experienced lab and phlebotomy professionals.

Our clinical lab technicians and phlebotomists have special expertise in performing lab tests on people with cancer. We use techniques that minimize “pokes and sticks,” reduce discomfort, and decrease your likelihood of having to repeat blood draws. Our lab technicians utilize approved testing techniques to ensure that you always receive accurate results.

Our on-site laboratory can process a variety of laboratory tests that help our oncology doctors diagnose, treat and manage cancer. These lab tests include hematology tests that measure white blood cells and other components of your blood, chemistry panels that help evaluate electrolyte balance and the presence of other chemicals in your blood, immunoassays that recognize immune response to infections, and coagulation tests to assess how well your blood clots.

The results of each laboratory test provide a piece of the puzzle that is important to your personal cancer care. Our dedicated and compassionate oncology staff will use your lab tests to assess your health and create a personalized treatment plan crafted especially for you.

Because our laboratory is on-site, we can deliver lab results to you and your doctors quickly. Residing in the same facility also allows our doctors, nurses and laboratory professionals to work together as a team to provide the best patient care possible. Your oncology doctor will review your lab results as soon as the reports become available; your doctor or nurse will contact you right away if any of the tests show conditions that require immediate attention. You may even be able to view your results on our convenient patient portal.