Cancer specialists in Savannah, Georgia
At The Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI), we are always on the forefront of new cancer innovations. We were the first in our region to offer a dedicated breast health program and gynecologic cancer program. Additionally, we provide the only children's cancer program in Southeast Georgia.
Our cancer center has nurse navigators who are dedicated to guiding patients and their families through treatment. Patients who choose our cancer care also have access to a wide range of clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program.
To learn more about our cancer care, please call us at 1 (800) 343-3025.
Specialized cancer services
The cancer team at the ACI includes specialists in treating a wide range of cancers. Our multidisciplinary team combines the talents of surgeons, physicians, nurses, social workers and dietitians to make sure every patient receives the individualized care they deserve.
We also offer comprehensive screening services that allow earlier detection of cancer and increased survival rates. While there are not screening tools for every type of cancer, the ones we have save countless lives every year.
Types of cancer we treat
The doctors at our cancer institute provide treatment for many different types of cancers, including:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gynecologic cancers, including:
- Cervical cancer
- Fallopian tube cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Primary peritoneal cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Head and neck cancers
- Lung cancer
- Oral and throat cancers
- Pediatric cancers
- Urologic cancers, including:
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
Cancer treatment options
There are a variety of options for treating cancer that can be used alone or in combination with each other. Our cancer institute specializes in the latest cancer treatments using leading-edge technologies.
We provide treatment in a comfortable, compassionate environment, including:
- Medications, such as:
- Biologic therapy
- Hormonal therapy
- Radiation therapy
If your treatment plan calls for radiation therapy, we will provide you with the latest advances in radiation oncology. including stereotactic radiosurgery. We are available every step of the way to answer questions you may have about radiation treatment.
Gynecologic oncology program
We offer dedicated care for patients with gynecologic cancers or pre-cancers. We treat gynecologic cancers, which includes 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 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
Cervical cancer screening
A Pap smear is the primary screening method for cervical cancer. During the test, cells are collected from the cervix and examined for abnormalities. Women should begin cervical cancer screening at 21 years old and continue to be tested every three years until they are 29 years old.
At 30 years old, women are screened every five years until they are 65 years old. If a woman receives an abnormal Pap smear, testing may need to be more frequent. Anyone with an abnormal diagnosis should be tested for 20 years following the result, even if that continues past 65 years old.
Once women are 65 years old and older, regular screening can stop if no abnormalities have ever been detected.
Prostate cancer care
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 in 9 men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. As medicine continues to develop, better treatments have allowed more men to return to active, productive lifestyles following treatment.
We recommend that men 50 years old and older talk with their doctor about receiving an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test with or without a rectal exam. African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should begin screening at 45 years old.
Early cancer screening program
Our hospital's Early Action Cancer Screening program is designed to meet the needs of patients who are considered to be at a high risk for developing cancer. The program's goal is to provide individualized plans that prioritize early detection and cancer risk reduction.
To learn more about our Early Action Cancer Screening program, please call us at (912) 350-1537.
What it means to be high-risk
If you are considered to be at a high-risk for developing cancer, it does not necessarily mean you will develop cancer. Instead, it means you are more likely to develop cancer when compared with others who are at an average risk of developing cancer.
If you are identified to be at a high-risk, you may be eligible for additional screening tests and risk reduction strategies. Risk reduction strategies are very effective and can result in early detection and, in some cases, prevention of cancer altogether.
Participating in cancer screening
If you participate in our program, your first visit will be used to gather information about your medical and family history. Prior to your visit, we ask that you gather relevant information from your family members. It is especially important to know if you have a family history of cancer.
During your visit, you will meet with our nurse practitioner who will review your history, perform a physical examination and discuss a plan for cancer risk management. You may be referred to other providers and/or be eligible for additional screening tests.
Only a small percentage of cancers are caused by gene mutations that run in a family. However, men and women who carry certain genes have a much higher risk of developing cancer.
To learn more about genetic counseling or to schedule an appointment, please call (912) 350-0956.
Genetic testing provides patients with the information and education they need to make important decisions about their health and cancer prevention. Our genetic counseling services benefit individuals and families by providing:
- Assessment of risk for cancer occurrence, recurrence or hereditary cancer syndrome
- Counseling to explain options, cope with results and adapt to the risk or condition
- Education about disease inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research
- Interpretation of family medical history
Genetic counseling at our hospital is led by a genetic counselor at our cancer center. Our services include:
- Genetic testing
- Intervention strategies to help prevent cancer
- Risk assessment
Cancer clinical trials
Clinical trials are primarily chosen by our doctors, but sometimes patients like to do their own research to learn more about clinical trial options. If you are a patient and would like to speak to a staff member about it, please call the department of clinical trials at (912) 350-8707.
Our patients have easy access to finding clinical trials through a smartphone app that provides information about our trials, eligibility criteria and contact information.
Cancer support groups
We know that after a cancer diagnosis, healing is about more than medicine. It's about getting the emotional support you need as well.
We are proud to offer patients access to an array of support groups, including:
- Caregiver support—This group offers support for family members and loved ones who are caring for a person with cancer.
- Dana's Circle—This is a community support group for children and teens whose families are affected by cancer. Meetings are held in our cancer institute on the last Tuesday of every month from 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm. For more information, please contact Dana's Circle via email or connect with us on Facebook.
- Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)— FORCE is a support group dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Learn more about FORCE.
- Harvest of Hope Retreat—This is a free, annual event that brings together cancer survivors of all ages and their families for a day of relaxation and renewal.
- Head and neck cancer support group—This group is for people with head and neck cancers and their caregivers. This group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 1:30 pm in our cancer institute's Teleconference Room.
- Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma support group—This group serves people with leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma and their loved ones. This group meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 2:30 pm in our cancer institute's Teleconference Room.
- Look Good, Feel Better—This program teaches women how to overcome skin changes and hair loss due to cancer treatment. Licensed cosmetologists provide free makeovers, beauty tips, wigs and turbans. This program is co-hosted by the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council and the Professional Beauty Association.
- Prostate cancer support group—This group meets on the second Wednesday of every other month at 6:00 pm in the cancer institute's Teleconference Room. Meetings include fellowship and discussion with other prostate cancer survivors and caregivers.
- Support B.R.A.S.—This group supports young adults with breast cancer in the Greater Savannah area. Meetings are open to patients with breast cancer and their caregivers. To learn more, please call (912) 897-3933.
- Survivor Link—This program matches a newly diagnosed "fighter" with a "coach" who has completed cancer treatment and can provide support, encouragement and tips. We do our best to match fighters and coaches based on cancer type, gender, age and interests.
For more information about our support groups, please call (912) 350-3109.
Additional resources for patients
Our cancer support team includes oncology professionals in nursing, clinical nutrition and case management. Together, they develop new programs to meet the needs of our patients and their families.
Our nurse navigators are key members of our team. They meet with patients and caregivers to provide education and help patients overcome barriers they may face during treatment. The Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute proudly offers the following resources for our patients:
- Acupuncture—This can help patients cope with treatment-related side effects, such as pain, nausea, fatigue and stress.
- Cancer support community educational programs—Once a quarter, our cancer support community provides educational programs that focus on the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of people with cancer. Topics include coping with chemotherapy, bone health, lymphedema and nutrition.
- Counseling services—Counseling is available with a licensed clinical social worker to help patients cope with diagnosis, treatment and life after cancer.
- Hypnotherapy—A licensed hypnotherapist is available one day a week at our cancer institute. It may be helpful in controlling stress and promoting healthy lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation.
- Massage therapy—This service is available twice a week for our patients receiving inpatient and outpatient cancer care. A licensed massage therapist provides gentle touch treatment to promote wellness and relaxation.
- Oncology social workers—Social workers can help arrange special services, such as home nursing care or at-home medical equipment and assist patients in contacting outside agencies for financial assistance, when needed. Throughout treatment, social workers are available to help with issues involving health insurance, transportation and expenses associated with medications or household utility bills. To learn more about services provided by our social workers, please call (912) 350-3109.
- Pain management—We help patients manage their pain symptoms and improve their quality of life during treatment. We provide inpatient and outpatient assessments for issues such as pain, nausea, fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and other treatment-related side effects.
- Palliative care—This medical treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve overall quality of life during cancer treatment. Palliative care is different from hospice care, as it is provided to patients with any type of prognosis not just end-of-life care.
- Patient advocacy—Members of our patient and family centered care program are available to assist whenever necessary. They serve as a liaison between patients and the hospital to ensure our patients receive the best care possible. For more information about patient advocacy, please call (912) 350-8581.
- Reflexology—Stress relief and relaxation are provided by applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, ears or face that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology aids in stress relief and promotes overall relaxation and well-being. This is offered in our outpatient treatment area at no additional cost.
- Resource rooms—Our cancer institute has resource rooms that are open to the community. These rooms provide access to educational materials about cancer treatment, side effects, complementary therapies and emotional health resources. Our resource rooms also offer online access for further cancer research.
- Spiritual care—Our hospital provides spiritual and religious services, including ministry, literature and worship services. Spiritual care is available in inpatient and outpatient settings. Our chaplains are available to talk with families about the cancer experience and offer prayer and spiritual support to those in need. To speak with a chaplain, please call (912) 350-8637.
To learn more about our support programs, please call (912) 350-8874.