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Radiation Oncology Blog

A Blog for Radiation Oncology
Keyword: musc

At MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary cancer care team works to educate and inform patients to help them navigate their cancer diagnosis and treatment with as little stress as possible.

Patient Resources

Patients coping with a cancer diagnosis may hear unfamiliar medical terms related to their disease and its treatment. We have spotlighted three common cancer treatment terms below and provided brief definitions of each.

  • Ablation or Ablative: Refers to surgical removal of tissue. When discussing advanced radiation therapy techniques like Gamma Knife or TrueBeam STx, ablation refers to the process of destroying and killing cancer cells with high-dose, precisely targeted radiation. You may hear a physician say Gamma Knife delivers “ablative doses of radiation to a tumor” when discussing treatment of brain tumors.
  • Local Control: Refers to cancer that hasn’t grown and progressed and remains at the original tumor site. Radiation is used for local control of cancer cells at the site of the tumor.
  • 5-Year Survival Rate: Refers to the percentage of patients who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. Many of these people live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis, but the 5-year rate is used as a standard way to discuss a patient’s prognosis, or outlook for survival.

Learn more about treatment on our FAQs page.

Dr. Jennifer Harper is a radiation oncologist at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, as well as an associate professor at MUSC.Dr. Jennifer Harper

She is certified by the American Board of Radiology and focuses on the treatment of breast cancer, palliative care and head and neck cancer. Dr. Harper serves as a member of the multidisciplinary head and neck cancer team.

Her teaching efforts have been recognized by the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology. She has also received an MUSC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.

In addition to having a clinical interest in Gamma Knife radiosurgery, a noninvasive treatment for brain tumors and functional brain disorders, Dr. Harper specializes in breast cancer and its treatment. She has published extensive clinical research on the topic of accelerated partial breast irradiation.

Dr. Harper sees patients regularly at Hollings Cancer Center’s Mount Pleasant location, which recently debuted new technology to treat patients. Treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer are two key focus areas for Dr. Harper and the multidisciplinary team of doctors who treat patients at Hollings Cancer Center.

Learn more about Dr. Harper here or read about Hollings Cancer Center’s Comprehensive Breast Care Program, the only South Carolina breast center accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and also affiliated with a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center.

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, a time recently recognized by patients and organizations around the country, focuses on promoting education around these types of cancer, screening methods for early detection and treatment approaches.Cancer Awareness

At MUSC, the Head and Neck Tumor Center offers services for patients diagnosed with tumors in the following areas:

  • Neck
  • Mouth
  • Thyroid
  • Throat/larynx
  • Pituitary gland
  • Saliva glands
  • Ear
  • Eye
  • Nose

A multidisciplinary approach involving more than 30 specialists provides comprehensive expertise and recommendations to patients on the best course of treatment for their individual diagnosis.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an oral, head or neck cancer, contact us to schedule a consultation and learn about your treatment options.

April is recognized annually as National Cancer Control Month, a time to draw attention to advances made in the fight against cancer and raise awareness for prevention and screening methods for early detection.Lung Cancer

Lung cancer in particular is one area in which screening techniques have received increased attention and support for their role in early detection of disease in high-risk patients.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that screenings for lung cancer with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) will now be covered by Medicare.

A long-awaited decision, this is the first time Medicare has covered lung cancer screening and is important news for Medicare patients seeking preventive services.

Medicare beneficiaries who meet the required criteria will be eligible for annual lung cancer screenings with LDCT. To be eligible, patients must meet all criteria outlined in the official announcement available here.

Coverage includes a counseling visit and shared decision-making on the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening. A key goal of low-dose CT screening for lung cancer is detection of early stage disease, when the cancer is more likely not to have spread and is typically considered easier to treat.

If you or a loved one is screened for lung cancer and the disease is detected, contact us to learn about treatment options available through Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC’s Thoracic Oncology program. Click here to request an appointment.


Hollings Cancer Center Mt. PleasantNew technology installed at the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center’s Mount Pleasant location now offers improved imaging capabilities for patients, as well as several types of external beam radiation therapy. TrueBeamTM is an advanced cancer treatment system offering the latest radiation therapy techniques, including new imaging features that increase precision and accuracy of radiation delivery. The first patient will be treated in early January.

A free open house event will be held on Thursday, February 12 from 4:30 p.m. -7 p.m. at Hollings Cancer Center/Mt. Pleasant at 1180 Hospital Drive. The event will feature demonstrations of the new technology, and refreshments and beverages will be provided. The public is welcome to attend.

Regarding the newly installed technology in Mt. Pleasant, Dr. Jennifer Harper, MUSC associate professor and radiation oncologist, says:

“The new TrueBeam system in Mt. Pleasant reflects our commitment to ensure patients are treated with the most advanced technology supported by clinical research and provides another access point for patients and their families to get expertise from MUSC physicians in a community location. With the TrueBeam’s treatment and imaging capabilities and availability of other important cancer services such as mammograms in the Mt. Pleasant community, breast and prostate cancer will be focus areas of treatment for us at this location. We anticipate Hollings Cancer Center/Mt. Pleasant evolving into a destination for breast and prostate cancer treatment.”

Patients are currently being accepted for TrueBeam consultations. Call 843-876-8411 to request more information and find out if you or a loved one may be a candidate for TrueBeam treatment.