By Michelle Spitzer

Traveling several hours across the state for treatment can take an emotional and physical toll on cancer patients, but many of them will do whatever is needed to get the best possible care. Now patients can get the same quality and care right here in Brevard County.

Thanks to a new, strengthened relationship between Space Coast Cancer Center (SCCC) and the Tampa-based H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Brevard residents can stay close to home while getting the best care.
SCCC has had a long relationship with Moffitt, which is part of an elite group of National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Last year, it was announced that SCCC will now be part of the Moffitt Oncology Network, which includes a very select few facilities in the nation.

“The nature of our relationship has changed,” said Dr. Duff Sprawls. “Before we would refer patients there, now we have access to the Moffitt faculty. We practice the same quality as Moffitt. You can get the same care here as you can there. If we can’t do it here, for example, if you need a special operation, we send you there.”

Previously, Brevard residents might have to travel back and forth from coast to coast regularly for treatment. Now, patients might occasionally have to go to Moffitt for an initial consultation, or specialized care, but the majority of treatment can be done here at SCCC with access to everything Moffitt offers, from its faculty to clinical trials.

“We have a fast track as far as getting patients seen (at Moffitt),” said Dr. Miguel R. Pelayo. “There are clinical trials that Moffitt has that aren’t available anywhere else. At Moffitt you have doctors who just do one type of cancer, whether it’s breast, lymphoma, lung, they might offer a different perspective.”

The Moffitt Oncology Network implements Moffitt’s Clinical Care Model, including multidisciplinary cancer care, peer review, clinical pathways and quality assurance.

In addition to the benefit of more resources, it can be highly beneficial  on many levels not having to deal with the stress of coordinating travel. Being able to relax in your own home environment surrounding by friends, family and your own doctors is another bonus.

“If you are going to travel four hours roundtrip to Tampa and back and you’re already having side effects, the worst thing is what if you get back and you have a fever,” Dr. Pelayo said. “Treatment for cancer patients can be complicated. Having the comfort of someone you know manage your care is definitely a huge benefit and just the convenience of being close to home is very big.”

Dr. Pelayo completed his fellowship training in hematology and oncology at Moffitt and had the option to stay there, but instead he chose to practice at SCCC. He was aware of the stellar reputation SCCC had, which he said is reinforced being part of the Moffitt Oncology Network.

“It’s a very high recognition that really means something,” Dr. Pelayo said. “They are seeing us as an extension of themselves.”

Moffitt is a not-for-profit institution that first began seeing patients in 1986. It includes the Southeast’s largest blood and marrow transplant program, outpatient treatment programs that record more than 328,300 visits a year, the Moffitt Research Center, Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza, and Moffitt Cancer Center Screening and Prevention. It has a small number of private hospital rooms available and focuses heavily on research.

SCCC was established in 1983 and has locations in Titusville, Merritt Island, Melbourne and Viera. Its doctors have privileges at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Wuesthoff Medical Center in Rockledge and Melbourne, Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach, Viera Hospital and Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne.

For more information about SCCC, contact them at (855) 894-HOPE or visit them at