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  • 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.
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    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

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  • June 01, 2021

    By Evan H. Argintar, MD

    The knee is one of the busiest joints in our bodies. Knees bear a lot of weight and, in nearly every activity, withstand a lot of force.

    Connective tissues stabilize the knee, and cartilage prevents bone-to-bone contact. The knee is primarily designed to bend forward and back. Although it can move in other directions, that mobility is a bit more limited.

    The knee’s overall robust functionality can expose it to injury and inflammation, and knee pain can occur in many ways. In particular, sports and other intense activity—twisting, pivoting, flexing side-to-side—can place difficult demands on the knee. When those forces, perhaps combined with wear and tear, exceed the knee’s capability, the result is pain.

    Depending on the nature of the injury, pain can be sudden, or can increase gradually over time. What sort of medical response do these situations require? The good news: for most weekend warriors, knee pain can be improved without surgery.

    Sports and the Knee

    Young athletes’ knee bones are more flexible, supple, and typically quite healthy; in general, they’ve not yet begun to experience degenerative issues such as arthritis or reduced blood flow.

    Knee pain in younger athletes mainly results from overuse—for example, runner’s knee, when the kneecap repeatedly rubs against the lower thighbone, leading to painful tendonitis. Impact on the bent knee occurs repeatedly in sports like soccer and basketball. But runner’s knee is not confined to the young athlete—weekend warriors and professional athletes of all ages experience this condition. It’s generally the result of poor mechanics rather than structural issues.

    Contact sports can bring additional hazards. Football is the classic example: the knee may be hit in a way that forces it in an unnatural direction, causing traumatic ligament injury—damage to tissue that connects bone to bone.

    Ruptures and Sprains

    Rupture is a severe form of injury that occurs when ligament is completely torn from bone. Within the knee, a common rupture is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. ACL tears can be severely painful, immediately debilitating, and usually require surgical repair.

    More frequently, we see a milder form of ligament injury, a sprain. When ligaments are briefly stretched beyond their capacity, micro-tears set up an inflammatory response—pain and swelling.

    For weekend warriors, sprains and overuse injuries generally respond well to rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on the injury’s severity, physical therapy may help keep the knee moving and building strength as it heals.

    Younger athletes may also experience what’s commonly called growing pains. Although it’s not entirely clear what occurs at the cellular level, we do know that different parts of the body develop at different rates. When growth in one area of the skeleton progresses faster than in another, the slower areas are forced to stretch, which can result in severe short-term pain. As soon as the skeleton stabilizes, the pain disappears, typically at the onset of puberty.

    Good news: for most weekend athletes, knee pain can be improved without surgery. The sooner you seek orthopedic advice, the sooner you can feel better. More from @drevanortho https://bit.ly/3fOaWhh via @MedStarWHC
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    Meniscal Tears

    The knee experiences physical changes as it ages and blood flow naturally slows. This aging process can weaken connective tissues in the knee and create potential for a meniscal tear, another common sports injury.

    The meniscus is fibrous knee cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the thighbone and shinbone. Abnormal movement such as twisting may stress it beyond its capacity and cause a tear, and expected lack of blood supply makes healing more unpredictable.

    Many meniscal tears do not require surgery. Like sprains, they can become painless with time, as immobilization and therapy help strengthen the surrounding muscle. Therapy can also prevent future injuries.

    But, unlike tendons and ligaments, cartilage cannot heal. Meniscal tears and injuries to ligaments may need arthroscopic surgery so these structures can continue to protect cartilage, which has less capacity for healing.

    Degenerative Issues

    Particularly in older athletes or weekend warriors, arthritis and osteoporosis can contribute to knee problems.

    Layers of slippery, flexible cartilage allow a healthy joint to move freely and prevent bones from rubbing together. But when arthritis degrades the cartilage, the risk of bone-to-bone contact increases, resulting in pain.

    Osteoporosis, also a function of aging, causes less dense, weakened bone. Most individuals will experience it, but women are particularly prone. Although osteoporosis itself is not painful, it renders bones brittle and more likely to break, and resulting fractures cause pain and loss of mobility.

    While we have medications that can slow the progress of osteoporosis and help strengthen bone, the obvious best strategy is prevention. For most people, that means getting enough calcium and vitamin D. It’s difficult to get too much of these—use of supplements carries almost no risk, as normal kidney function eliminates anything that the body can’t use.

    Vitamin D and calcium are especially important for women, and a regular regimen should be adopted long before a woman becomes at risk for osteoporosis.

    When Is Surgery Appropriate?

    Patients often fear that, if they see an orthopedic surgeon, they will hear that they require surgery.

    Surgery is appropriate for ruptured ligaments, or when degenerative disease has destroyed bone or cartilage beyond its capacity to renew itself. Artificial knee joints keep millions pursuing physical activities without pain.

    But my job is to try to avoid surgery—determining the best course of action by considering the patient’s situation and all the rehabilitative resources we can offer. In most cases, we can mitigate knee pain without surgery.

    Pain Relief

    To evaluate knee injury and level of pain, we begin by listening to the patient, establishing a medical history, conducting a physical exam, and taking into consideration the patient’s age, activity, and other risk factors. We generally order routine X-rays and may add an MRI and CT scan, depending on the nature of the problem.

    Physical therapy can be a valuable first line of defense in defeating pain. Conditioning the muscles around the joint improves stability and motion and can help improve the athlete’s overall quality of life. Patients who follow their tailored regimen are typically quite successful at keeping knee pain under control for years.

    We can also administer steroid injections that often bring long-lasting relief, as well as anti-inflammatory medications and topical creams. Bracing the knee may also be helpful to add stability; fitting of a knee brace is best done in the healthcare setting so the brace is well customized to the patient’s knee and lifestyle.

    Also, we often recommend modifying activity frequency or intensity to help reduce knee pain.

    Excess weight also can be a contributing factor to stress on the knee joint. In these cases, losing weight is almost always advisable, and an improved diet can contribute not just to knee health but to better health overall. Adding a regimen of total-body conditioning can also benefit knee health; for example, activating a strong, stable core can help keep joints performing well.

    And among its many other negative points, smoking can be quite detrimental to joints. As a vasoconstrictor reducing blood flow throughout the body, nicotine only worsens joint problems.

    When to Seek Help

    Most athletes—whether professionals or weekend warriors—have a good idea how “the day after” the game should feel. Normal stiffness or a slight ache that disappears with over-the-counter pain relief can often be expected. But if you experience stubborn or increasing pain or discomfort in the knee, it makes sense to reach out to an orthopedic surgeon for help.

    The orthopedic team at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a powerful, cohesive group of professionals that offers decades of experience. Our multidisciplinary experts share information and determine the best approach for every patient.

    Keep in mind: in most cases, we can relieve knee pain without surgery. So don’t hesitate to have unusual or persistent knee pain checked by a physician. The sooner your knee is in good shape, the sooner you can safely get back to weekend activities with less pain and improved performance.

    Sudden knee pain?

    Our orthopedic surgery team can help.

    Call 202-788-0402 or Request an Appointment

  • May 28, 2021

    By Harvey Green, Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer

    Summer is upon us, and it’s time to get ready for the Race to Beat Cancer, our popular race event supporting life-saving cancer research!

    Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, last year’s 40th anniversary virtual racing event was a great success—and, in 2021, the Four Seasons Hotel and MedStar Washington Hospital Center will once again team up to host a virtual race with some exciting new features.

    Racing During a Pandemic

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Washington Cancer Institute have proudly partnered with the Four Seasons for the past 21 years of the Race to Beat Cancer. During that time, energetic participants and generous donors and sponsors have raised over $2.5 million to help fund critical research initiatives here in Washington, D.C.,

    Suddenly faced with the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we made the choice to take the Race virtual, and Race activities didn’t miss a beat! In fact, the virtual racing event brought us participants not just from across the U.S., but from locations as diverse as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Germany, and Uganda.

    Seeing our participants commit to the Race under such unique circumstances was truly inspiring. Despite the early-day challenges of the pandemic, the 2020 virtual Race helped raise $400,000 for critical cancer research in our community. Our goal for this year’s virtual event is to exceed a half-million dollars in funds raised, and the majority of these funds will be directed to advances in cancer treatment.

    Many of us feel the impact of cancer personally or through the experience of loved ones. The Race to Beat Cancer 2021 is your chance to help fight back and bring vital funds to important cancer research in our area. #BeatCancer https://bit.ly/3hYLloy via @MedStarWHC @harveyg3
    Click to Tweet

    Some Race Details

    Here are some important things to know about this year’s virtual Race:

    • We continue to offer a choice of distances for runners and walkers! Choose a one-mile, 5K, or 10K option, whatever distance you favor.
    • By popular demand, we’ve added a 50-mile cycling category this year and welcome our cycling enthusiasts to join the effort. ­
    • All participants have the one-week period from September 25 through October 1 to complete and log their miles. Participants can do the race more than once if they want, and can then pick their best time to enter into the race website. Winners will be announced on October 2.
    • Those who post Race results have the chance to win a prize. Participants who raise at least $100 will receive an official Race t-shirt.
    • If running, walking, or cycling are not your thing, you can support the cause by donating directly.

    Get more details.
    Register now!

    Funding for Research in Minority Care

    Cancer in general is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and, sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict it will soon overtake heart disease as the leading cause. Another unfortunate fact: the incidence of cancer in the Washington, D.C., area ranks fifth-highest in the nation. During 2021, 3,450 new cases and over 1,000 cancer deaths are expected here.

    According to Dr. Christopher Gallagher, our Medical Director of Cancer Services, we diagnose and treat more than 2,000 new cancer patients each year and manage more than 80,000 outpatient visits for cancer screening, treatment, and survivors’ care.

    Also noteworthy, more than 300 patients are enrolled in 35 clinical trials at the Washington Cancer Institute; 56 percent of those participants represent minority populations. We’re proud to say that the Washington Cancer Institute is a national leader in minority cancer care and scientific discovery.

    The Race to Beat Cancer is an essential lifeline to provide much-needed funds in support of this research. Most of our trials are pilot studies committed to the unique needs of our D.C. community—specialized research not typically given the same level of attention and funding by other institutions. For example, we are:

    • Studying the risk of cardiovascular disease in breast cancer survivors.
    • Improving existing hair-loss prevention technology to provide better options for African Americans undergoing chemotherapy.
    • Innovating ways to predict possible long-term effects of early-stage cancers.

    Learn more about our research efforts.

    Race Prep Tips

    Whether you plan to participate in the Race to Beat Cancer individually or as part of a team, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Be sure to print your race bib from our race website.
    • Wearing your race bib, choose a safe place to run, walk, or bike during the one-week racing period, September 25–October 1.
    • Or, if you prefer, get your miles on a treadmill or stationary bike.
    • Report your results to our website. If you like, use MapMyRun, Strava, or any other free app, or your GPS watch, to map your course and time yourself. In virtual racing, results are based on the honor system, of course.

    Don’t like to race alone? Consider forming a team! Teams are always a fun part of any race event, and a virtual race is no different. Team Green—myself, my wife, and my two daughters—will once again participate this year. Dr. Gallagher’s team returns as well, joining a number of other teams from the MedStar Health family and our local community.

    Share Your Story, Volunteer, or Be a Sponsor

    Although a virtual race doesn’t require as much assistance from a volunteer staff as a live race event, there’s still work to be done pre-race. Email us for potential opportunities to help.

    And, as always, we very much appreciate any extra support or promotion of the Race or your own racing activity. Photos and videos really help drive enthusiasm for a virtual race, so please share your story on social media to help spread the word:

    • Tag us on Instagram: @racetobeatcancer5K
    • Like us on Facebook: Race to Beat Cancer
    • Use the hashtag: #MyRace2BeatCancer

    Sponsorship, of course, is also critical to reaching our $500,000 goal. If you, your business, or your organization would like to become a Race sponsor, you’re invited to review our detailed sponsor package on the Race to Beat Cancer sponsorship page and contact Philanthropy Officer Jennifer Abramson via that page for more information.

    See You “at” the Race!

    The Race to Beat Cancer is a true win-win for the Washington, D.C., area. It’s good for our bodies and mental well-being and fosters our community’s commitment to overcoming this deadly disease.

    Without a doubt, we all look forward to the day when we’ll return to the physical event, with its excitement, high-fives, and camaraderie. But with your help, I know our 2021 virtual race will be even bigger and better than last year’s. We look forward to your participation and to seeing your Race photos and videos.

    So mark your calendar and start training!

    Help Us Race to Beat Cancer!

    Register today!

  • May 26, 2021

    By Ross Krasnow ,MD

    As the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., bladder cancer affects about 80,000 Americans each year. And because men are at higher risk than women, it’s the #4 cancer risk for them.

    Bladder cancer can grow and spread very quickly. The good news is that it is treatable—but like most cancers, the earlier it’s discovered, the more successful that treatment can be. The five-year survival rate for cancer that has not spread beyond the bladder is as high as 96 percent. But when that cancer begins to spread, that number can drop below 10 percent.

    So, it’s essential to understand potential risk factors, and to take action if you see any warning signs, particularly blood in the urine.

    Bladder Cancer Risk Factors

    Let’s first consider some risks for bladder cancer.

    Perhaps the most significant is smoking. Smokers are three times as likely as non-smokers to develop this disease. Age can also be a factor: Bladder cancer tends to appear after age 55, and the average age at onset is 75.

    Men have about a 30 percent greater chance of developing it than women, and white people are twice as likely to contract it as Blacks or Hispanics.

    A family history may also increase the risk, as well as the patient’s own prior history of bladder cancer, bladder infections, or repeated catheterizations. Certain medications and herbal supplements may add risk, including the diabetes medicine pioglitazone (Actos) and herbs in the aristolochia family, such as birthwort and snakeroot. Arsenic in drinking water, as well as some workplace chemicals—specifically aniline dye compounds—may also contribute.

    Our kidneys are continually at work, extracting waste products from the blood and excreting them in the form of urine. The bladder is the temporary holding tank, storing the urine until it’s expelled.

    Because the kidneys are very efficient at removing toxins from the blood, the resulting urine may contain elements that are potentially hazardous to the bladder. For example, in smokers, those elements are absorbed within the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The kidneys release some toxins via urine, which makes contact with the inner wall of the bladder. These toxins can potentially alter DNA and cause cancer.

    Bladder Cancer Symptoms

    Bladder cancer can develop and grow quite aggressively, although in its early stages, it seldom causes pain. Blood in the urine is the most prevalent warning sign that something is amiss with the bladder, particularly for people over 50. If you see blood even once, schedule a visit with your doctor.

    In later stages of bladder cancer, the patient might experience an increase in urinary incontinence or frequency, a burning sensation, or a feeling that the bladder is not fully emptied. The feet and kidneys may also swell, and the patient may have back pain or bone pain.

    Bladder cancer is serious but treatable—the earlier it’s discovered, the better. Blood in the urine is the most common warning sign. If you see it, reach out to your doctor. More from @RossKrasnow https://bit.ly/3wynyj3 via @MedStarWHC
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    Diagnosing Bladder Cancer

    In order to determine the extent of bladder disease, I complete a full medical history with the patient and typically order a CT scan of the abdomen, with and without contrast. Occasionally, we conduct specific tests on the urine.

    We also schedule a cystoscopy to obtain a direct view of the inside of the patient’s bladder, using a tiny camera and lights mounted on a thin, flexible tube passed through the urethra. With this same scope, we are able to biopsy small samples of bladder tissue for lab analysis.

    The procedure, which typically takes about 30 minutes, can be done in the office with numbing anesthesia. Most of my patients do fine afterwards, with only minor irritation and more frequent urination, both of which go away quickly.

    Bladder Cancer Treatment

    If one or more tumors is found, surgical removal of the tumor tissue is typically the recommended approach.

    When disease is present only on the inner lining of the bladder, it can be removed endoscopically without incisions, via a procedure known as transurethral removal of bladder tumors, or TURBT. In most cases, these tumors are completely removed with small instruments passed into the bladder. TURBT surgery leaves the bladder and urinary function intact, and the patient has a very good chance of no recurrence.

    Although many cancers are visible to the trained eye under regular, white light, we frequently deploy blue light technology as well. We fill the bladder with a special dye, about an hour before surgery. Rapidly dividing cancer cells absorb the dye more quickly than healthy cells; under blue light, those abnormal cells glow pink.

    Blue light technology helps define the edge of the tumor and can sometimes reveal lesions too small to see under white light. It is particularly helpful in diagnosing cancer that may have returned following a traditional procedure. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we perform up to 10 blue light procedures per month—more than any other medical center in Washington, D.C.,

    After a TURBT procedure, we can introduce any necessary chemotherapy or immunotherapy agents directly into the bladder, where they can do their work without impacting other parts of the body.

    When Tumors Go Deeper

    If a tumor has invaded the walls and muscular structure of the bladder, we may need to remove the bladder completely, which calls for a plan for the storage and elimination of urine.

    Depending on each patient’s unique situation and preferences, we have a few options:

    • The most common approach is to use a short section of small intestine to create an ileal conduit, a pathway for urine to exit the body through the abdomen, where it collects into a urostomy bag. My conduit patients do very well with the procedure and with adapting to life with the bag. Most of my patients are able to resume normal activities, including golf, tennis, and other forms of exercise.
    • In a neobladder surgery, we create a new bladder from a longer segment of small intestine, which is grafted to the kidneys and urethra to function similarly to the original bladder. The patient must learn to use abdominal muscles to empty the new bladder, which has no muscle mass of its own. This surgery is more complex; however, in cases where we can perform it robotically, we reduce blood loss and risk of complications for the patient.
    • Continent cutaneous diversion is a hybrid of the previous two options. We create a new bladder pouch from a portion of small intestine, with a pathway through the abdomen to the outside. The pouch remains inside the body but is not connected to the urethra. It is emptied periodically via a tube inserted into the new abdominal port. This procedure also eliminates the need for the urostomy bag.

    In the most serious instances, when cancer escapes the bladder and is found in other areas of the body, we use trimodal therapy, combining surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. With today’s effective therapies, we are sometimes able to spare the bladder and help the patient maintain normal bathroom function.

    An exciting development is the current research on immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Cancer cells are very clever; they can cloak themselves with normal-looking proteins to hide from the body’s immune system—wolves in sheep’s clothing. But these new agents remove the disguise, allowing the immune system to spot and eliminate the cancer cells. When these therapies receive FDA approval, we expect them to be game-changers in the treatment of bladder cancer.

    Prostate-Friendly Bladder Surgery

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of just a few hospitals performing prostate capsule-sparing bladder cancer surgery.

    When bladder removal is required, the prostate has traditionally been removed along with it, impairing erectile function. But by means of this surgery, a portion of the prostate is left behind, significantly reducing that risk, as well as the chances of post-surgical leakage or urinary incontinence.

    Thanks to prostate capsule-sparing bladder surgery and neobladder surgery, we have the very real prospect of men surviving bladder cancer with sexual function intact and no need for a urostomy bag or absorbent pads or undergarments. This is a huge advance compared to just a decade ago—and particularly important for younger, sexually active patients.

    Our Multidisciplinary Approach to Care

    Our urologic oncologists team closely with the medical oncology and radiation oncology units to manage disease in our patients closely. Our physician assistants and nurse practitioners are specially trained to help surgery patients adapt to any new bathroom routines that may be required following their surgery.

    Bladder cancer is serious and it can spread aggressively. Tumors may bleed for a short time, then stop. So if you notice blood in your urine even once, be sure to schedule a visit with a medical professional.

    Delaying treatment for even a month may spell the difference between an early diagnosis with a very good prognosis and a more challenging outcome. It’s never a mistake to heed the warning and protect your health.

    Blood in your urine?

    Our urology team can help.

    Call 202-788-0402 or Request an Appointment

  • May 26, 2021

    By Christopher You, MD

    It’s been about 15 months since the term “COVID-19” became part of our vocabularies and began wreaking havoc on “normal life” as we all once knew it. In more ways than can be counted, the pandemic has changed the way people live. So many spent a good part of the year at home in their most comfortable clothes and indulging in comfort foods – for some as a coping strategy and for others, perhaps it was simply out of boredom.

    And now? Well, the tides are turning. Slowly but surely, we are seeing the return of some facets of life as it used to be. Restrictions are gradually lifting. People are returning to work in-person and most kids are back in school. We are starting to socialize again. And with the weather warming up as well, we’re thinking about and planning vacations again. With all of that may come a brutal reality check; you may find yourself standing at your closet, scratching your head and wondering how it’s possible that all of your summer clothes from last year no longer fit. Striking a chord? You are not alone.

    How bariatric surgery can help.

    Bariatric surgery as one tool for weight loss management never has been and never will be a “quick fix” solution. It takes a commitment – not only to undergo a complex surgical procedure, but also to make significant lifestyle changes with focus on health, wellness, and becoming the best version of yourself possible. That said, if you’ve considered bariatric surgery in the past but have never taken or moved past the first step in the process in your weight loss management journey, it may just be that NOW is the right time to act.

    Standing in your closet frustrated because nothing seems to fit anymore? You’re not alone. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, bariatric surgeon Dr. Christopher You explains why now may be a good time to consider bariatric surgery: https://bit.ly/3fkSEoK.

    Click to Tweet


    What does it mean when we say to “act”?

    By “act,” I am encouraging you to consider registering for an online informational seminar with the bariatric surgery program at MedStar Health. It’s the very first step in the surgical weight loss journey, and it’s an important one. Our seminar opens a door for you to explore bariatric surgery as a possibility and determine if it might make sense for you. It will inform you about our services, our approach to surgical weight loss, and the expertise of the MedStar Health’s bariatric team, including myself, Dr. Alain Abdo, and our talented nurse practitioner, Karen Wheeler. Very importantly, you will also get to hear some amazing and inspirational stories of success from patients who turned their lives around for the better by turning to us for help.

    Register for our online seminar.

    Start living your happiest and healthiest life.

    COVID-19 taught us all just how important it is to live each day to its fullest, and to never take the little things for granted. Take a close look at where you are versus where you want to be. What steps can you take to pursue your happiest and healthiest life, post-pandemic? If you determine bariatric surgery may be a necessary step in that journey, MedStar Health can help. Our team is here for you and committed to guiding and supporting you – every step of the way.


    Ready to start your weight loss journey, or want to learn more?
    Register for our free online bariatric information seminar to begin the journey toward a better, happier, and healthier you.

    Learn More