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  • Lucy De La Cruz
    January 20, 2022

    The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center

    WASHINGTONLucy Maria De La Cruz, MD, has joined MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as chief of its Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center. Dr. De La Cruz is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in advanced breast surgery procedures, including wireless lumpectomies, hidden scar technique, oncoplastic breast conservation, and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She has been published in more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals, and her pivotal papers on nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncologic outcomes have been cited worldwide. She will also direct the hospital’s breast surgery fellowship program.

    Lucy De La Cruz

    “I am honored and excited to lead the breast surgery program and the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said De La Cruz. “It has been my life-long dream to bring my passion for medicine, helping others and building a state-of-the-art breast surgery program to advance breast health. I look forward to working with our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts to compassionately care for, educate and empower my patients in their health journey.”

    Dr. De La Cruz is an academic breast surgeon who conducts outcomes-focused research, and among her special interests are the impact of genomic mapping to guide breast cancer treatment and male breast cancer treatment. Her work is guided by a long-standing commitment to promoting equity and efficacy in breast cancer care delivery, using the principles of value-based health care.
      
    “The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are thrilled to have Dr. De La Cruz lead the breast surgery program. Her commitment to patients, their journey, and their outcomes are unmatched; and her expertise in novel surgical techniques brings new and beneficial options to patients,” said David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS, Physician Executive Director, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Professor and Chair Department of Plastic Surgery, and Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
     
    Dr. De La Cruz’s story

    Dr. De La Cruz, 39, started her journey towards becoming the youngest Latina woman to lead a breast cancer surgery program at a major academic medical center at young age. As the daughter of international physician researchers, she spent a lot of time in labs where her parents worked, sparking her passion for medicine and “making a difference in people’s lives.” She grew up in Cuba, Mozambique, Spain, and Miami.
     
    In college, she studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at the Universidad Central Del Este School of Medicine, where students were involved in patient care very early in their education and training. There, she completed her medical degree, founded an American Medical Student Association chapter and raised scholarship funds to help those who couldn’t afford tuition.

    After graduation, she was told becoming a surgeon would be nearly impossible as a foreign medical graduate and a female. Despite this, De La Cruz obtained research fellowships from the University of Miami and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She continued her journey by obtaining a one-year residency internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she earned the Intern of the Year award and an AOA medical honor society membership for her dedication to medical student teaching. During her residency, she worked on an award-winning oncologic outcomes research project for nipple-sparing mastectomy that continues to be cited worldwide.
     
    That same year, Dr. De La Cruz started her breast surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she worked in private practice for a year before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as a faculty member in the associate program director of the breast cancer surgery fellowship program.
     
    After relocating to Washington, D.C., to be close to her family, she founded the breast cancer fellowship program curriculum at the Inova Health System. Now at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center, she continues to teach residents and fellows, pursue research, and care for patients – the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. 

    About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    About the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center


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  • July 02, 2018

    WASHINGTON — Bladder cancer is relatively common and imposes the highest per patient cost on the U.S. health care system than the management of any other cancer type. Now, a new test could be key to reducing the cost of care while at the same time, relieving some patients of unneeded over-treatment, say investigators led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers.

    Deciding whether to treat bladder cancer aggressively has been difficult — predictive diagnostic data is limited.  Up to 70 percent of patients treated for early stage lesions that have not invaded the bladder wall will experience recurrence of these lesions, and 20 percent of these patients will develop an invasive cancer. 

    Because clinicians do not know which tumors will become dangerous, they err on the side of caution and perform an extremely intensive post-surgery surveillance regimen, including cystoscopy (a lighted optical scope that examines the inside of the bladder) as frequently as every three months for two years after removal of the tumor, and every 6-12 months for the years after.

    The Georgetown-led investigators offer a new solution to the dilemma. They have found that a fairly simple test that significantly improves the identification of bladder tumors that will likely become invasive.

    The study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, “validates this test that helps predict whether an early stage bladder cancer will recur and progress,” says the study’s senior author, Todd Waldman, MD, PhD, a professor of oncology at Georgetown.

    Working with researchers from the U.S. and Denmark, Waldman has found that, compared with using current diagnostic procedures, the new test is 2.4 times more accurate in identifying tumors likely to recur after treatment, and 1.9 times more accurate at predicting which tumors will likely to progress, invade the bladder wall and spread.

    The test involves examining bladder tumors that had been removed during initial surgery for over expression of the STAG2 gene, which Waldman earlier identified as key to development of potentially deadly bladder tumors.

    Checking for STAG2 is a “very simple and very robust” procedure for pathologists who routinely examine excised tumors, Waldman says. His studies have described how to run this test.

    Using the test could, in some cases, spare patients constant surveillance and, in others, support forgoing aggressive treatment that can produce significant side effects, the researchers say.

    So Waldman and his colleagues have worked on a diagnostic test for years. This study summed up several of those clinical studies, concluding that using the test “offers additional two-fold predictive discrimination,” Waldman says.

    “We are closer to our goal of lowering the risk of both aggressive bladder cancer and over-surveillance and treatment side effects in bladder cancer patients,” he says. “In principle, it might be possible to reduce the frequency of post-resection surveillance and therapy in patients whose cancer is STAG2-negative, and, conversely, treat patients and keep up high frequency surveillance in patients who have positive test results.”

    The study’s first author is Alana Lelo, an MD/PhD candidate at Georgetown University School of Medicine.  Additional Georgetown authors include Deborah L. Berry, PhD, Brent Harris, MD, PhD, George Philips, MD, Krysta Chaldekas, and Jung-Sik Kim, PhD. Frederik Prip, Lars Dyrskjøt, PhD, Jørgen Bjerggaard Jensen, MD, are from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark; Jeffry Simko, MD, PhD, and David Solomon, MD, PhD, are from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Ciaran Mannion, MD, and Pritish Bhattacharyya, MD, are from Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey, and Anagha Kumar, MD, is from MedStar Health Research Institute in Washington D.C.,

    The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

    This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute grants (R01CA169345, T32CA009686, DP5OD021403), and Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA051008) to the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource); the Danish Cancer Society; the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (TL1TR001431); and institutional funds from the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.

  • June 29, 2018

    Skin cancer doesn’t always look like trouble.

     

    Though most of us would know to seek a medical opinion over a suspicious mole, other patches may not seem questionable at all. That’s why regular skin checks — through self-exams, as well as appointments with your family physician or dermatologist — are important. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, frequently looks like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump, or raised reddish patch that might be itchy. They can also appear to be flat, firm, pale, or yellow areas, similar to a scar, or pink growths with raised edges. These can develop anywhere on the body after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.

    Suspicious areas can also look like dry, rough, scaly patches or spots that may be flesh-colored or pink-red. Known as actinic keratoses, these spots usually appear on areas prone to frequent sun exposure: the neck, head, hands, and forearms, according to the American Cancer Society. People with one actinic keratosis often develop many more. These spots could stay the same, clear up on their own, or develop into squamous cell carcinoma, so seeking a professional opinion is key.

    Red firm bumps, scaly patches, wart-like growths, sores that heal but then come back — these could be indicative of squamous cell carcinoma. The rims of the ears, neck, back, face, arms, and chest are frequently affected by these growths, which can develop deep in the skin and spread to other areas of the body.

    Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, usually develops in a mole or suddenly appears as a new dark spot on the skin. “Most people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless,” states the American Cancer Society. “But it’s important to notice changes in a mole — such as its size, shape, or color — because that may be a sign that melanoma is developing.”

    “Regardless of your skin suspicions, catching them early is very important,” said Temeria Wilcox, CRNP, a board-certified family nurse practitioner at MedStar Health Primary Care at East Run Center in Lexington Park. “Because basal cell carcinoma, in particular, can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, preventing permanent damage starts with doing regular skin checks, keeping appointments for routine physicals, and seeing a doctor right away with any skin concerns.”

    When doing a self-exam, note your standard birthmarks, moles, and other blemishes, and have a partner help inspect hard-to-reach areas like your back and neck. Regular exams are especially important for those at a higher risk of skin cancer: people with reduced immunity; those who have had skin cancer before; and people with a strong family history of the disease.

    “Be aware of your normal pattern of moles, freckles, and blemishes,” Temeria advised. “Checking your own skin frequently can help find many skin cancers early, when they are easier to treat. Your doctor can work with you as a part of your routine physical and overall wellness.”

    Visit MedStarStMarys.org/SkinCheck to learn more about skin health.

    What to Look For:

    The A, B, C, D, Es of Melanoma

    ___________________________

    A- ASYMMETRY

    One half is unlike the other half.

    B - BORDER

    An irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.

    C - COLOR

    Varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.

    D - DIAMETER

    Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

    E - EVOLVING

    A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in the size, shape, or color. If a spot changes, itches, bleeds, or is different from others, see your doctor or dermatologist. 

    Source: American Academy of Dermatology

  • June 25, 2018
    The MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Marketing, Public Relations & Philanthropy team, from left: Jeni Irwin, Rachel Lytle, Holly Meyer, Deborah Gross, Megan Johnson, Ruby Hawks, Jennifer Davis, and Sandy Ondrejcak.

    Leonardtown, Maryland – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Marketing, Public Relations & Philanthropy Department was recently honored with 10 awards from the Aster Awards Program and the Healthcare Marketing Report (HMR).

    The Aster Awards Program is an elite competition dedicated to recognizing excellence in medical marketing, while HMR is a publications group focused on marketing news and information from around the nation in the field of higher education and healthcare.

    Aster Awards received this year include:

    • Gold for STRIVE365, Internal Advertising Campaign
    • Gold for Diamonds and Pearls: Gala 2017, Special Events
    • Silver for The Pulse, Internal Newsletter Series
    • Bronze for the Eclipse Facebook Post, Social Media - Single

    HMR Awards received were:

    • Gold for The Pulse, Internal Publication
    • Gold for Diamonds and Pearls: Gala 2017, Special Events
    • Gold for the Opioids Series, a Public Relations Program in Healthy Living
    • Bronze for STRIVE365, a Health Promotion Program
    • Merit for Sports Medicine, an Advertising Series
    • Merit for the Eclipse Facebook Post, Social Media

    The staff includes Holly Meyer, director; Ruby Hawks, assistant director; Sandy Ondrejcak and Jennifer Davis, graphic designers; Jeni Irwin, marketing and philanthropy coordinator; Rachel Lytle, digital marketing coordinator; and Deborah Gross and Megan Johnson, writers.

    “Creativity, communication, and excellent teamwork are the glue that binds our team together,” said Meyer. “We are proud to share news from MedStar St. Mary’s with our community, and honored by these recognitions for the work we love to do.”

    About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight-time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates, and volunteers. 

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