Health Blog | Hospital News, Resource and Podcast | MedStar Health

MedStar Health Blog

Featured Blog

  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 


    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.


    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 


    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.


    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.


    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.


    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.


    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.


    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.


    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 


    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.


    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 


    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog: https://bit.ly/3KbVUA1.
    Click to Tweet

     

    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.


    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.

     

    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!


    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

All Blogs

  • April 04, 2021

    By MedStar Team

    Allie Moses was awarded the SPIRIT of Excellence Award during the MHRI Virtual Town Hall.  Allie is the Manager of the Clinical Research Systems and Recruitment Center, Chair of the MHRI Wellness Committee, and Co-Chair of MedStar Research AIDE. The award was presented by Tina Stanger, Assistant Vice President of Research Administration.

    Allie was recognized not only for the work she does as a superb manager day to day but also for leading the work of the Wellness Committee for MHRI along with the work she does with AIDE to change MHRI for the better. Allie is an awesome team player and we are thankful for her “willingness to step up, speak up, and lead.”

    “I wanted to make sure you knew from my perspective how incredibly valuable and valued you are to MHRI—as a colleague, manager and leader,” said Deliya Wesley.

    The SPIRIT Award is given to recognize and reward one associate (management or non-management) each quarter, who excels in Service, Patient First, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork.

    Nominations are based on submission to the MHRI Kudos program. Each quarter, the MHRI Executive Team will review the KUDOS submissions and select an associate or manager who best exemplifies all our SPIRIT values.

  • April 04, 2021

    By MedStar Team

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in March 2021. The selected articles and link to PubMed provided below represent the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals last month. The list is compiled from PubMed for any author using “MedStar” in the author affiliation. Congratulations to this month’s authors. We look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on PubMed.gov here.

    Selected research:

    1. Pharmacologic Treatments for PCOS Patients.
      Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2021. DOI: 10.1097/GRF.0000000000000597
      Kodama S, Torrealday S.

       

    2. Lessons Learned from Caring for Patients with COVID-19 at the End of Life.
      Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2021. DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2020.0251
      Rao A, Kelemen A.

       

    3. Evaluation of Maternal-Fetal Triage Index in a Tertiary Care Labor and Delivery Unit.
      American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2021.100351
      Kodama S, Mokhtari NB, Iqbal SN, Kawakita T.

       

    4.  Assessing the Relationship Between Bone Density and Loss of Reduction in Nonsurgical Distal Radius Fracture Treatment.
      Journal of Hand Surgery, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2021.02.002
      Ghodasra JH, Yousaf IS, Sanghavi KK, Rozental TD, Means KR Jr, Giladi AM.
  • April 04, 2021

    By MedStar Team

    Recently published collaborative research evaluated the prevalence of detectable inflammatory heart disease in professional athletes with prior COVID-19 infection, using current return-to-play screening recommendations. The major North American professional sports leagues were among the first to return to full-scale sport activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these professional sports leagues (MLS, MLB, NHL, NFL, and the men’s and women’s NBA) implemented a program for all players who had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to resumption of team-organized sports activities. “Prevalence of Inflammatory Heart Disease Among Professional Athletes With Prior COVID-19 Infection Who Received Systemic Return-To-Play Cardiac Screening” was published in JAMA Cardiology.

    The goal of the study is to assess the prevalence of clinically detectable and relevant cardiac injury in athletes testing positive for COVID-19 and the efficacy of consensus screening recommendations in achieving a safe return to competitive sports. This cross-sectional study reviewed return-to-play cardiac testing performed between May and October 2020 on professional athletes who had tested positive for COVID-19. Troponin testing, electrocardiography (ECG), and resting echocardiography were performed after a positive COVID-19 test result. Those with abnormal screening test results were referred for additional testing, including cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and/or stress echocardiography.

    The study included 789 professional athletes. The results show a total of 460 athletes had prior symptomatic COVID-19 illness and 329 were asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic but had tested positive for the virus. Using the return-to-play cardiac screening algorithm, 6 athletes had an abnormal troponin level, 10 athletes had ECG abnormalities warranting further cardiac evaluation, and 20 athletes had an echocardiographic finding necessitating additional testing to exclude acute cardiac injury. No adverse cardiac events occurred in athletes who underwent cardiac screening and resumed professional sport participation.

    The study team concluded “while long-term follow-up is ongoing, few cases of inflammatory heart disease have been detected, and a safe return to professional sports activity has thus far been achieved.” Further research is needed to understand whether there may be long-term cardiac effects among athletes infected with COVID-19, whether or not they were symptomatic.

    This study was co-authored by Dr. Andrew Tucker, Medical Director of MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Sports Medicine and. Dr. Tucker also serves on the US National Football League General Medical Committee.

    Jama Cardiology, 2021. DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2021.0565

  • April 02, 2021

    By Edward McCarron, MD, Surgical Oncologist at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

    More people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other form of cancer. Fortunately, most skin cancers are easily treated if caught early. That’s why it’s important to understand what factors increase your risk of skin cancer. If you know you are at a high risk of skin cancer, you can take proactive measures to lower your risk and follow screening precautions that might save your life.

    How is melanoma different from other types of skin cancer?

    There are different kinds of skin cancer and the treatment options and severity varies for each. Melanoma is a life-threatening form of skin cancer that affects people of all ages and skin tones. While your risk of melanoma increases as you age, it’s also the most common form of cancer found in young adults.

    Melanoma is a much more aggressive form of skin cancer than others, like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma because it can quickly grow and spread to lymph nodes or internal organs. When diagnosed early, 98% of melanoma cases can be treated surgically without chemotherapy or radiation. However, left untreated, melanoma can be deadly.

    Fortunately, melanoma can be cured when it’s found early. That’s why it’s important to seek care from an experienced team of skin cancer experts at the first sign of an unusual change to your skin, especially if your skin has been excessively exposed to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

    Have you been diagnosed with melanoma or another form of skin cancer?

    Request an appointment.

    Factors that increase your risk of developing melanoma.

    A risk factor is anything that affects the likelihood that you develop a disease. Some skin cancer risk factors are within your control, such as how much sun you’re exposed to. Others are outside of your control, like your age or family’s medical history.

    Are you at a high risk of developing skin cancer? On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, Dr. McCarron shares 7 factors that can increase your risk of #SkinCancer, including #Melanoma, you can do to decrease your odds: https://bit.ly/3du6xif.

    Click to Tweet


    1. Excessive sun exposure.

    Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the most common cause of skin cancer. Therefore, if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun during midday hours, you are at an increased risk of skin cancer. This is especially true if you don’t take proper precautions to protect your skin by wearing UV-blocking clothing or sunscreen.

    2. Your skin type.

    While anybody can develop skin cancer, people with a lighter complexion are more prone to developing skin cancer than those who have a naturally darker complexion. And, if your skin easily freckles or turns red, or you have light-colored eyes and blonde or red hair, you are also at a greater risk. People who have albinism have little or no melanin pigmentation to protect their skin from the sun and are at the greatest risk of skin cancer.

    In addition, if you have a lot of moles on your skin, you may be at an increased risk. Although most moles are harmless, having a large number of moles or moles that are abnormal increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

    3. Tanning bed use.

    Even if you only use a tanning bed one time, you increase your risk of skin cancer. That’s because tanning beds use high levels of UV radiation to affect the pigment of your skin. Some people may think that having a “base tan” before going on vacation will help to minimize their risk of severe burns, but a tan does not protect your skin from the sun. Any change in pigment, whether sunburn or tan, is a sign of injury to your skin. That’s why it’s important to avoid using tanning beds or sunlamps altogether.

    4. A past of blistering sunburns.

    If you’ve had one or more blistering sunburns, you have a higher risk of skin cancer. While frequent sunburns also increase your risk of skin cancer, getting one or more blistering sunburns could double your risk of developing skin cancer later in life, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

    5. Age.

    As you age, you increase your risk of skin cancer because you’ve accumulated more years and opportunity to be exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Most skin cancers are diagnosed in adults over the age of 50. However, skin cancer can also be found in young adults who spent a lot of time in the sun with little to no protection.

    6. Personal history of skin cancer.

    If you’ve had skin cancer before, you are more likely to develop it again. This is true for all types of skin cancer, but reoccurrence is especially common if you’ve had melanoma. 90 percent of recurring cases of melanoma occur in the first three years after treatment which is why it’s important to continue to follow-up with your care providers even after your skin cancer is treated.

    7. Family history of skin cancer.

    Finally, if a family member has had skin cancer, you are at a greater risk of getting it yourself. And, certain inherited conditions that may affect your skin’s ability to repair UV damage may increase your risk of skin cancer.

    How to lower your risk of developing melanoma.

    Just because you have a risk factor doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop melanoma. However, having a risk factor or multiple risk factors means that you should take extra precautions to lower your risk.

    If you have a higher risk of developing melanoma, you can help protect your skin and lower your risk by:

    • Using sunscreen
    • Wearing protective clothing
    • Avoiding the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
    • Performing skin self-exams
    • Talking to your doctor about any signs of abnormal skin lesions or moles
    • Seeking routine screenings starting at the age of 40

    Learn more about protecting your skin from harmful UV rays.

    While some types of skin cancer are easily treated, melanoma can be life-threatening. And although melanoma survival rates have greatly improved over the past decade, it’s still better to never need melanoma care in the first place. If you do, it’s important to seek care from an experienced team of skin cancer experts at the first sign of an unusual change to your skin, especially if you are at a high risk of skin cancer.


    Have you been diagnosed with melanoma or another skin cancer?
    Our highly trained specialists can provide comprehensive treatment plans to help remove and prevent the cancer from returning.

    Learn how MedStar Health Cancer Network can help.

  • April 01, 2021

    By Kenneth D. Burman, MD

    For people with diabetes mellitus, the risks are real, and there can be many complications.

    It’s important to understand the risks and be proactive about keeping healthy. This is especially important for the African American community, which is affected disproportionately by diabetes.

    • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes
    • Non-Hispanic blacks have been 3.5 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, often connected with a diabetic condition
    • Non-Hispanic blacks have been 2.3 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be hospitalized for lower limb amputations—also associated with diabetes
    • Nationwide, African Americans have been twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die as a result of diabetes

    A more dramatic statistic: about 8.3 percent of residents of the District of Columbia are diagnosed with diabetes, similar to the national rate of 8.7 percent. However, the diabetic death rate for blacks in the District can be as much as five times that of whites.

    Also at higher risk are people of Hispanic and Asian ancestry. We don’t have a detailed understanding of what causes these demographic disparities, although it may well be a combination of genetics, socio-economic factors and access to care.

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we are committed to reaching at-risk populations, providing education and increasing access to needed medical services. Following expert guidelines from the American Diabetes Association and others, we’re enabled to tailor treatment to each patient’s individual profile.

    Along with representatives from MedStar medical centers across Baltimore and Washington, D.C., our team members also participate in a regional diabetes council, where we exchange knowledge and innovations to better serve at-risk populations and deliver the best possible treatment at the lowest possible costs.

    Diabetes is serious and can cause many complications, and African Americans are at a higher risk. The complications of diabetes occur especially in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. Be proactive with these tips from Dr. Kenneth Burman. https://bit.ly/3cnSviK via @MedStarWHC
    Click to Tweet

    Type 1 and Type 2

    Our bodies (e.g., GI tract, liver) convert food to glucose, which fuels our cells. But, when diabetes is present, the body has difficulty getting glucose into the cells that need it. The glucose builds in the blood instead, causing problems like:

    • Retinal abnormalities and bleeding into the retina, which can lead to blindness
    • Increased risk for kidney disease and kidney failure
    • Blood vessel damage, with the potential for lower limb amputation, heart attack and stroke
    • Fatty liver disease

    In Type 1 diabetes mellitus, the immune system malfunctions and attacks the pancreas, interfering with insulin production, the chemical the body needs to convert glucose to energy. In type 2 diabetes mellitus, the pancreas makes insulin, but the cells of the body become resistant to it.

    Type 1 strikes at random, and we don’t yet know how to prevent it. The type 1 diabetic is generally young and thin and presents with ketoacidosis, a form of blood poisoning caused when the body cannot process glucose and instead taps its fat reserves for energy.

    The much more common Type 2 accounts for about 90 percent of the disease in the U.S. and worldwide. And it is on the rise. The causes are not completely known, but it is linked to obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and genetics. And, although it generally affects those over 45, it’s becoming more frequent in children, teens, and young adults.

    Type 2 occasionally presents with excessive thirst and urination, or weight loss despite consuming a normal diet. Other symptoms may include blurred vision; cuts or bruises slow to heal; tingling or numbness in the hands and feet; and recurring skin, gum or bladder infections.

    But usually, Type 2 builds slowly over a period of years, often without the patient realizing it.

    By the Numbers

    Our blood sugar changes throughout the day, with eating, exercise, sleep and time. The glucose self-test that diabetics perform offers a snapshot of what’s happening in the moment, important for short-term management of their blood sugar.

    For assessment of longer-term control of a patient’s diabetes, we assess their hemoglobin A1C using a laboratory test that indicates glucose levels over the previous three months. For most patients, A1C is the prime determinant for long-term management of their diabetes.

    • A normal A1C should be below 5.7
    • Between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered prediabetes
    • 6.5 or above indicates diabetes

    Prediabetes

    When prediabetes is present, blood sugar throughout the day is higher than it should be, a warning sign to the patient to make changes. The term can be confusing, because it implies it will inevitably progress to diabetes. But not everyone with prediabetes gets diabetes. In most people, prediabetes is reversible via weight loss and increased activity; sometimes medication (such as metformin) is given. Maintaining these healthy habits is critical, as prediabetics are at greater risk for complications.

    Treatment of Diabetes

    An A1C of 6.5 or above indicates diabetes, and we typically prescribe treatment with an oral medication or insulin. In addition, every few months, we monitor the patient’s blood glucose, A1C, and liver and kidney function.

    We generally begin with an oral agent, such as metformin, that increases the cells’ sensitivity to natural insulin, made in the body. This and other oral medications are well tolerated and have fewer side effects than older sulfonylurea drugs. We also have new, extended-release injectables that can work for up to several days (called IGF1 receptor inhibitors).

    Insulin injection is still reliable and available in long- and short-acting formulations. An insulin pump can reduce or eliminate multiple injections each day.  And helpful technologies continue to evolve, including continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices that reduce the need for finger sticks.

    Lifestyle modifications continue to be critical as well. Although exercise and weight loss may not eliminate the need for medication completely, they may decrease the likelihood of complications and make disease management less challenging, requiring fewer drugs in lower doses. Eating healthy and understanding how different foods affect blood glucose are also key for a patient to normalize blood sugar.

    Weight

    The more we learn about Type 2 diabetes, the more we acknowledge how truly complex it is. For most, it’s safe to say that maintaining a healthy weight can prevent diabetes from starting and make it easier to control if it does occur. Multiple studies show that losing even a small amount of weight can have an impact.

    Weight management is so important that many healthcare organizations offer lifestyle modification programs. For example, the Diabetes Boot Camp program led by Dr. Michelle McGee, director of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, combines self-care education with intensive medication management. Designed for diabetics who have trouble controlling their A1C, it pairs the patient with a diabetes educator who tracks blood sugar in real time through a virtual, cloud-based protocol, combined with personalized recommendations. Long-term follow-up helps diabetic patients stay on track.

    Weight loss surgery is also an option. The Hospital Center has an excellent program, headed by Dr. Timothy Shope, Chief of Advanced Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery. Dr. Shope’s team offers a variety of procedures, with companion support and counseling. Such programs can be very effective for glucose control in people unable to moderate weight through diet and exercise.

    How We Support You

    Residents of the Washington, D.C., area can look to MedStar Washington Hospital Center as a reliable partner in managing their diabetes. Our team of diabetes support specialists includes experienced and qualified endocrinologists, led by Dr. Meeta Sharma, as well as specially trained and certified diabetic educators.

    Our holistic approach incorporates medical, lifestyle and educational considerations. For example, our registered dietitians can educate the patient in how carbohydrates, fat and protein affect glucose levels and help them select appropriate foods. Our social work and financial teams help overcome barriers to care by navigating insurance and improving access to medication, equipment, testing and follow-up care.

    Don’t Delay

    Like many diseases, diabetes is best managed early, before patients experience possibly irreversible complications.

    It’s critical to take care of yourself and see your healthcare provider regularly. Get the recommended lab tests, monitor blood sugar regularly and stick to your recommended diet and exercise regimen. This is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially for African Americans and others at highest risk.

    With our user-friendly telehealth program, you can see your provider without leaving home. And for in-person visits, we are strictly adhering to all COVID-19 protocols so that we are able to provide the safest possible environment for patients and staff.

    You’re never far from an expert who can help.

    Lower your diabetes risk.

    Our team can help.

    Call 202-788-5048 or Request an Appointment

  • March 31, 2021

    By Lisa Bearman, MSN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, Nurse Practitioner for Thoracic Surgery and Interventional Pulmonary, MedStar Health Cancer Network

    If you recently had a computed tomography (CT) scan that revealed a dark spot, or lung nodule, in your chest, you may be concerned about what that means.

    A lung nodule is a small mass of tissue that can be spotted in the lungs during lung cancer screenings or imaging tests using computed tomography (CT) scans or X-rays. In most instances, nodules aren’t cancerous. However, because lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, you should always seek follow-up care to accurately diagnose and monitor any sign of lung nodules.

    How are lung nodules detected?

    Lung nodules look like a white, round shadow and are commonly found during lung cancer screenings using low-dose CT scans. A low-dose CT scan uses advanced x-ray technology to create a detailed 2D image of your lungs. As a result, lung cancer experts can find and track tiny lung nodules early. Because early detection is your best chance of treating lung cancer, it’s important to get screened as soon as you’re eligible.

    Are you eligible for a lung screening?

    Lung nodules can also appear on other imaging tests, such as X-rays, used for unrelated purposes. Whether your lung nodule appeared during a lung cancer screening or other imaging tests, it’s unlikely that you experienced any related symptoms.

    Are lung nodules cancerous?

    Most lung nodules are benign, or non-cancerous. In fact, only 3 or 4 out of 100 lung nodules end up being cancerous, or less than five percent. But, lung nodules should always be further evaluated for cancer, even if they’re small. Because lung cancer treatment is more effective when it’s caught early, monitoring your lung nodule early could save your life.

    Less than 5% of #LungNodules are cancerous, but getting them evaluated could save your life. Nurse Practitioner Lisa Bearman shares why on the #LiveWellHealthy blog: https://bit.ly/3masBCE.

    Click to Tweet


    What should I expect at lung nodule evaluation?

    At MedStar Health Cancer Network, our pulmonary and thoracic experts evaluate and monitor lung nodules at our dedicated Lung Nodule Clinic in Baltimore. When you schedule your initial visit, our dedicated nurse navigator will ask you a few questions about your chest scans. If you received your test results outside of MedStar Health, she’ll also request those be sent to us for review.

    During your appointment, our team of lung and thoracic specialists will:

    • Discuss your medical history
    • Review your CT images
    • Calculate your risks
    • Monitor lung nodule growth or changes
    • Establish a personalized diagnostic and surveillance plan

    How your care team will determine if your lung nodule is cancerous.

    To determine if your lung nodule is cancerous, your care team will thoroughly review your medical history, including your risk factors for developing lung cancer, such as:

    • Being a smoker
    • Having a family history of lung cancer
    • Exposure to second-hand smoke
    • Prolonged exposure to certain gases (e.g. radon)

    A team of experts will also carefully inspect your CT scans to better understand the size and location of your lung nodule. If it is small, it is unlikely that they will perform any additional tests or biopsies. However, if your lung nodule is large or suspicious, they may perform surgical and non-surgical biopsies to test for cancer. At MedStar Health Cancer Network in Baltimore, we offer the newest and most promising technologies for early diagnosis of lung nodules, including:

    • The superDimensionTM System for performing minimally invasive biopsies of tissue anywhere in the lungs
    • Endobronchial Ultrasound, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure for obtaining tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes with less pain and risk than traditional lung biopsies

    All results are reviewed by our multidisciplinary team of experts. This includes board-certified thoracic surgeons, radiologists, and pulmonologists, so you can expect an accurate and timely diagnosis. When treatment is necessary, our comprehensive treatment plans range from complex surgeries to clinical trials and advanced therapies that are hard to find elsewhere.

    Continue to seek follow-up care to monitor your lung nodule.

    Regardless of the size of your lung nodule, your doctor will create a plan to monitor how your lung nodule evolves. Most patients with lung nodules will schedule periodic follow-up appointments at 3-, 6-, or 12-month intervals to see if the lung nodule grows or changes over time. This ensures your care team can catch any signs of lung cancer early—or provide peace of mind that you don’t have cancer.

    How to minimize your risk of lung cancer.

    The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing a cancerous lung nodule or lung cancer is to quit smoking. Because smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer in the U.S., quitting could save your life. From prescription drugs to virtual counseling classes, we’re here to support you. Talk to your doctor about saying goodbye to smoking for good.

    And, if you’re eligible for lung cancer screenings, don’t delay. A low-dose CT scan can detect early signs of cancer, such as a lung nodule. And, it just might save your life.


    Did a recent CT scan reveal lung nodules?
    Seek evaluation at our dedicated Lung Nodule Clinic in Baltimore today.

    Learn More