Rectal Cancer Diagnosis

During the early stages of rectal cancer, it is unlikely that you will experience symptoms. That’s why it’s important to proactively prevent rectal cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices and getting regular rectal cancer screenings.

At MedStar Health, our colorectal specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating rectal cancer because we see a high number of patients every year. Seeing such a high volume of rectal cancer cases is proven to result in better outcomes, like higher survival rates and a lower risk of needing a colostomy.

An Accurate Diagnosis Leads to More Effective Treatment

If you have rectal cancer, we believe an accurate diagnosis is the most important step to getting treatment that will give you the best results and the highest quality of life.

Rectal cancer screenings allow your doctor to see the inside of the rectum—and the colon—during a procedure called a colonoscopy. If something unusual is found, our team of rectal cancer experts move quickly to find out if it is or isn’t cancer.

There are a variety of tests that your doctor may use to confirm your diagnosis and understand the size and location of your rectal tumor, as well as if it has spread, or metastasized. These may include:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms. They’ll also examine your body for anything abnormal. This may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) where your doctor will use a gloved finger to feel for anything unusual in the rectum.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy may be used as both a screening and a diagnostic procedure because it allows your doctor to view the inside of your rectum. During a colonoscopy, your doctor can see polyps or other signs that cancer is developing.
  • Biopsy: Your doctor will take a small sampling of suspicious tissue from your rectum using a procedure called a biopsy. This is the most definitive way to find out if your tumor is cancerous or not.
  • Proctoscopy: If your doctor suspects rectal cancer, they may use a proctoscope to look inside the rectum. During a proctoscopy, your doctor will insert a thin, lighted tube with a camera into the rectum. This allows them to identify the location and size of your tumor.
  • Imaging: Your doctor may use a combination of x-ray, computed tomography scans (CT scans), or ultrasound to take pictures of the inside of your body. This allows them to see if the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Blood tests: Your doctor may use various blood tests to:
    • Look for blood in your stool that may not be otherwise visible
    • Measure the types of cells in your blood
    • Identify tumor markers found in blood
    • Check your liver function

View rectal cancer treatment options.

The Stages of Rectal Cancer

As part of your diagnosis, your doctors will evaluate the stage of your rectal cancer, or how much it has grown and spread. Your rectal cancer stage will determine what kind of treatment is necessary to remove your cancerous tumor and prevent it from coming back.

The staging system is complex and indicates:

  • The tumor size (T)
  • How much it is affecting the lymph nodes (N)
  • How far it has spread to other parts of the body (M)

Your doctor will take into account all three factors to describe your cancer on a scaled stage of zero to four. The higher the number, the more your cancer has progressed and the harder it is to treat.

For example, the following system is used to describes the size of the tumor (T):

  • T - There are abnormal cells in the innermost rectum lining. This is the earliest possible sign of cancer and is highly treatable.
  • T 1 - The tumor has grown beyond the inner lining of the rectum. However, it’s still contained in the rectum and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • T 2 - Cancer has expanded to the outer layer of the rectum but has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • T 3 - Cancer has grown through the rectum wall and has reached one or more lymph nodes.
  • T 4 - Cancer has spread to other vital organs in the body, such as the lungs. There may also be cancer in the lymph nodes.

It’s Always Good to Get a Second Opinion

Once you have a diagnosis, it may be beneficial to ask another doctor to look at your case. Getting a second opinion can ensure that you receive the most accurate diagnosis possible and you may find that there are additional treatment options that you didn’t know were available.

Ready for a Second Opinion? 

Call us at 1-877-715-HOPE

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Rectal Cancer Screening

A screening is a test used to look for signs of disease, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Screenings can save your life because they allow doctors to find abnormal growths, called polyps, before they turn into cancer.

If rectal cancer is found during a screening, the chances of it being cured are much higher when it’s caught early. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends screening via colonoscopy beginning at the age of 45. For men and women who are at a higher risk of developing rectal cancer, your doctor may recommend you begin screening earlier.

How to Screen For Rectal Cancer

While there are multiple ways to screen for rectal cancer, a colonoscopy is the best way to find the disease early while it’s still treatable.

A colonoscopy can be used to screen or diagnose colorectal cancer, which refers to both colon and rectal cancer.

During a colonoscopy, your doctor uses a thin, flexible tube attached to a small camera. This is inserted into the rectum and colon, allowing your doctor to look for anything unusual, such as:

  • Abnormal growths called polyps
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors
  • Ulcers

Many people delay colonoscopies for fear of what to expect, including how to prepare for a colonoscopy. But, it’s not that bad thanks to advances over the past 10 years. You may be surprised to hear that:

  • You’ll be sedated during the procedure, so you won’t feel anything
  • The procedure is short, lasting only 15 to 20 minutes
  • The drink you have to consume the day before tastes better than it used to

Learn what to expect during a colonoscopy.

Who Should Be Screened For Rectal Cancer

If you have an average risk: All men and women should be screened for both rectal cancer and colon cancer beginning at age 45, if they are considered to have an average risk. Being at an average risk means that you do not have:

  • A personal history of colon or rectal cancers
  • A family history of colon or rectal cancers
  • Confirmed hereditary condition that makes you more likely to develop colorectal cancer
  • Related health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

People with an average risk should continue rectal cancer screenings every 10 years through the age of 75. According to the American Cancer Society, you and your doctor should determine whether or not to continue screening between the ages of 76 and 85. You do not need to be screened once you are over the age of 85.

Schedule your rectal cancer screening today.
[cta box] Call 877-715-HOPE

If you have a high risk: You may be at a higher risk for rectal cancer and need to be screened earlier than the age of 45 if you have:

  • A personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer
  • A medical history of inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • An inherited gene that makes you more likely to develop colorectal cancer

If you meet any of these criteria, talk to your doctor about when and how you should be screened for rectal cancer.

You May Be Eligible For a Free Rectal Cancer Screening

If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may qualify for a free colorectal cancer screening in Baltimore.

You may be eligible for a free rectal cancer screening if you are:

  • A Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or Anne Arundel County resident
  • Age 50 or older
  • Under 50 with symptoms or a family history of colon cancer
  • Living on a limited income

Call us today to find out if you qualify for a free rectal cancer screening in Baltimore.
[cta box] Call 410-350-8216 or 410-350-3444 (Spanish)

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Rectal Cancer Prevention

Unlike some other forms of cancer, rectal cancer is preventable. Most rectal cancers develop from polyps, which are unusual growths that develop on the wall of the rectum. A doctor can spot and remove polyps during rectal cancer screenings called colonoscopies.

Get Screened Regularly for Colon Cancer

While polyps themselves are not cancerous, they can grow into cancer. That’s why your doctor will remove them if they are found during a colonoscopy. Removing the polyps significantly decreases your risk of rectal cancer.

Some people are afraid of getting screened for rectal cancer out of fear that the doctor will find something. But, the earlier cancer is found, the more treatable it is. In fact, most early-stage rectal cancer can be cured.

Learn more about rectal cancer screening.

Make Healthy Choices

A healthy lifestyle may also help prevent rectal cancer, based on some studies. Consider taking the following steps to lower your risk of developing colon cancer:

  1. Get screened every 10 years, starting at age 45
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Eat a low-fat diet and less red meat
  5. Consume more fruits and vegetables
  6. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol

If you are considered to be at a high risk of developing rectal cancer, talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, as you may need to be screened earlier or more frequently. A genetic counselor can also help you manage your risk of rectal cancer if it runs in your family.

Read about risk factors for rectal cancer.

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Rectal Cancer Risk Factors

Certain things can increase your risk of getting rectal cancer. Knowing your risk ahead of time can help you take action to stay healthy and minimize the likelihood that you develop rectal cancer.

At MedStar Health, you’ll benefit from genetic counselors who are experts in evaluating your family history and risk for inherited cancers. This allows us to help you proactively take steps to minimize your chances of rectal cancer through earlier screening and lifestyle changes.

Related: Emily Kuchinsky, MS, a certified genetic counselor, explains how Lynch Syndrome increases your risk of cancer

Your Risk is Affected by Age, Lifestyle, Background, and Medical History

Rectal cancer risk factors may include:

  • Age: Once you turn 50, you are more likely to develop rectal cancer.
  • Race/Ethnicity: If you are African-American or Jewish with an Eastern European background, you are at an increased risk.
  • Medical history: Certain health conditions raise your risk of rectal cancer, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, or other types of cancer. And, if your doctor found polyps during a colonoscopy, you are also at an elevated risk.
  • Family history: If you have family members with rectal cancer, you are at a higher risk. Our genetic counselors can help you determine how much you are at risk and take action to reduce your chances of developing rectal cancer.
  • Diet high in fat: Lifestyle choices greatly impact your risk of rectal cancer. Studies show that you are at an increased risk for developing rectal cancer if you eat a diet high in fatty calories, like red meat. You may be at a higher risk if you don’t eat enough food with fiber, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Not enough exercise: If you aren’t active, you may be more likely to develop rectal cancer.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use: Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol can increase your chances of rectal cancer.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle Can Minimize Your Risk of Rectal Cancer

If one or more risk factors apply to you, that doesn’t mean that you will get rectal cancer. But, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about ways to minimize your risk. Your doctor may suggest getting screened regularly for rectal cancer and making healthy lifestyle choices, including:

  • Eating fruits and vegetables
  • Staying active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation

It’s important to remember if you don’t have any risk factors, you can still get rectal cancer, so you should be screened every ten years once you turn 45.

Learn more about rectal cancer prevention.

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

1-877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Rectal Cancer Symptoms

Rectal cancer symptoms are similar to colon cancer symptoms. In fact, the two kinds of cancer are often grouped together and called “colorectal cancer”. However, the location of the cancer is different. Rectal cancer often develops from a small, abnormal growth in the rectum called a polyp.

Polyps are so small that it’s impossible to feel them. Even as they become cancerous, many people are unaware that they have rectal cancer.

Most People Don’t Have Symptoms When Rectal Cancer Begins

Most people with early-stage colon cancer don’t experience any symptoms. By the time signs of rectal cancer appear, it’s already progressing to a more advanced stage. And when rectal cancer is advancing, that means it’s spreading and is harder to treat.

View rectal cancer treatment options.

If You Notice These Symptoms, Talk to Your Doctor

Many rectal cancer symptoms could be related to other health conditions, including colon cancer. However, if the following symptoms continue for more than two weeks, be sure to check-in with your doctor to rule out cancer.

Rectal cancer symptoms may include:

  • Bloating, cramping, and/or frequent gas pains
  • Bloody stool
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Unexplained, sudden weight loss
  • Vomiting

A Colonoscopy Can Help Prevent Rectal Cancer—or Find it Early When It’s Treatable

You shouldn’t wait for rectal cancer symptoms to appear before seeing a doctor. Getting regular colonoscopies is the best way to prevent rectal cancer because your doctor can remove polyps in the rectum before they turn into cancer.

Ready to Schedule A Colonoscopy?

1-877-715-HOPE

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

1-877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Rectal Cancer

There are over 43,000 people diagnosed with rectal cancer every year, according to the American Cancer Society. When combined with colon cancer, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women.

The good news is that more advanced screening and treatment options are resulting in an increased survival rate for patients with rectal cancer. This is especially true at places like MedStar Health, where our cancer specialists treat a high number of patients with rectal cancer.

In addition, rectal cancer is preventable if you undergo regular screening via colonoscopy, starting at the age of 45. During a colonoscopy, your doctor can look for polyps and remove them before they become cancerous.

Call Us Today to Schedule Your Rectal Screening

1-877-715-HOPE

About Rectal Cancer

Rectal cancer begins in the rectum, which is the last six inches of the large intestine. Sometimes rectal cancer develops from an abnormal growth called a polyp—but not all polyps lead to cancer.

Rectal cancer is similar to colon cancer because they are both part of the digestive system. However, they require a different approach to treatment. In fact, rectal cancer is more challenging to treat because of it’s proximity to other organs, bones, and tissue.

That’s why it’s important to seek care from someone with experience using innovative techniques to treat patients with complex cases of rectal cancer. Studies prove that outcomes are better at high volume centers like MedStar Health, as they result in:

  • Greater success at removing rectal cancer
  • Less chance of recurring rectal cancer
  • Minimized risk of needing a colostomy bag
  • More likelihood of preserving your ability to use the bathroom naturally

Learn more about rectal cancer below.

 

Watch How Screening Can Help You Prevent Rectal Cancer

Sometimes, rectal cancer and colon cancer are lumped together and referred to as colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy can help prevent both types of cancer. Learn more below.

Rectal Cancer Care at MedStar Health

When you’re cared for at MedStar Health, you can expect comprehensive care that starts with a full range of advanced diagnostic options and continues with groundbreaking treatments that eliminate your cancer—and minimize the likelihood it will return.

Our team approach involves a variety of specialists who are focused on customizing your treatment plan using the most effective surgical techniques. Through innovative clinical trials and complex procedures only available at a few cancer centers in the nation, we can reduce your chances of needing a colostomy through sphincter preservation.

You’ll benefit from:

  • An experienced tumor board that allows surgical, radiation, and medical oncologists, radiologists, gastrointestinal specialists, therapists, and nurses to review and design a customized treatment plan as unique as your case
  • Novel surgical procedures that include minimally invasive and robotic options that result in less pain, fewer risks, and shorter recovery times
  • Oncologists and researchers pioneering new methods for diagnosing and treating rectal cancer while preserving your quality of life and minimizing the chances of your disease from returning

View our locations

 

Rectal Cancer Success Story

Call Us Today

1-877-715-HOPE

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Diagnosing Orthopedic Cancer

Our physicians gather information from the most advanced methods to develop the most complete and accurate diagnosis possible.

Minimally invasive biopsies can help accurately identify the cancer without going through surgery. Your physician removes tissues or cells from the concerning area to determine whether the tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and how aggressive it is.

Pathology review allows your musculoskeletal pathologist to learn about the tumor and cancer, including type, stage, and whether the tumor was completely removed on a microscopic level. It also determines whether your doctor needs to surgically remove more tissue around the tumor.

Advanced imaging pinpoints the tumor and possible growth of the cancer, using the most advanced technology.

Orthopedic radiology review by our expert orthopedic surgeons and radiologists, to examine the scans and films, and identify the location and possible growth of the tumor.

Each patient receives a thorough evaluation and goes through a complete diagnostic process before we create an individualized treatment plan. Our experts in bone and soft tissue tumors include a team of pathologists, musculoskeletal radiologists, musculoskeletal interventionalists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Many of our specialists are nationally and internationally recognized experts who lecture worldwide, serve on the editorial boards of prestigious publications, and hold leadership positions in subspecialty organizations.

When we see a new patient, that individual can frequently see all of us on one day -- avoiding multiple trips. And we see new patients within 48 hours or less.

Contact Us

Are you struggling with a new bone cancer diagnosis? Need a second opinion or more advanced care? We're ready to fight for you. Please call us.

443-777-BONE

 

Our Locations

Orthopedic Cancer at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
The National Center for Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
9103 Franklin Square Dr., Ste. 2200
Baltimore, MD 21237

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Preparing For Your Colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your whole colon, small intestine, and rectum. During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera attached, called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and entire colon to see if there’s anything unusual, such as:

  • Ulcers
  • Colon polyps (i.e., unusual growths)
  • Tumors
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation

If anything suspicious is found, your doctor can collect a sample of tissue for further investigation, which is called a biopsy. During the colonoscopy, your doctor can also remove any polyps. Polyps aren’t cancerous but they can develop into cancer.

Schedule Your Colon Cancer Screening

1-877-715-HOPE

Colonoscopies are the best way to prevent colon cancer and rectal cancer. You should get screened for colon cancer regularly if you are over the age of 45—or earlier, if you have a family history of colon cancer. Regular screening can also help diagnose colon cancer at an early and treatable stage, giving you more time with the people you love most.

How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

Preparing for your colonoscopy is just as important as the actual procedure because it impacts how well your doctor can see your colon and rectum. While it may not be your idea of fun, many people say it’s not as bad as you think. And, knowing what to expect ahead of time can help to minimize any inconvenience or concern.

What To Do The Day Before a Colonoscopy

Before a colonoscopy, you will need to clean out your colon with medication and a clear liquid diet. Colon prep can take one to two days, depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Plan to stay home during your prep since you may need to use the bathroom often.

Here’s what to do the day before a colonoscopy.

Drink only clear liquids the entire day. Avoid eating solid food during or after prep. Instead consume clear liquids such as:

  • Water
  • Bouillon
  • Clear sodas, like Sprite or ginger-ale
  • Clear juice, like apple or white grape juice
  • Pulp free lemonade
  • Coffee or tea (without milk or creamers)
  • Plain Jell-O (Avoid red, purple or blue Jell-O, added fruit, or toppings.)

Mix your medication. You will be given a laxative medication ahead of time (e.g. Colyte, Trilyte, Nulytely, or Golytely). Mix the powder in the provided plastic containers with water to the fill line and chill in the refrigerator. Consider adding Crystal Light powdered lemonade to the solution, which may improve its taste.

You’ll need to drink the solution for approximately four hours at the following intervals:

  1. Begin drinking the solution at approximately 4 p.m. the day before your colonoscopy.
  2. Drink one 8-ounce glass every 10 to 15 minutes until complete in about four hours.

You must drink the entire container of solution. If your stools are not completely clear (pale yellow to clear fluid) after taking the entire solution, you should take one 10-ounce bottle of Magnesium Citrate. This can be purchased without a prescription at any drug store.

After your prep is complete, you may drink water until midnight.

Stop eating or drinking after midnight. If you are on insulin or other diabetic medication, check with your primary or referring physician for additional instructions.

Talk to your doctor if you are on blood thinners (i.e., Coumadin, Heparin, Lovenox, Plavix, etc.).

What To Do on the Day of a Colonoscopy

You’ve completed prep the day before your colonoscopy and are ready for your screening. Here’s what to do next.

  • Avoid eating hard candy or chewing gum.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove.
  • Leave jewelry at home.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and allergies.
  • If you are over age 50 and have recently had an electrocardiogram (EKG), bring a copy of the EKG tracing with you or have your primary physician fax a copy.

Registration: Plan to arrive 60 to 90 minutes before our appointment time to complete check-in for your procedure. This is a great time to discuss any concerns or questions with your care team.

Getting ready: Once registered, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown. A nurse will review your medical history and start an intravenous line (IV), which will keep you sedated during the screening.

During the procedure: The procedure will only last 15 to 20 minutes. You will be sedated, so you will be comfortable during your colonoscopy. Your care team will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels the entire time.

Recovery: When your procedure is done, you will remain in the recovery room for up to one hour. Your doctor will discuss the results of your procedure with you and give you a written copy of the report.

Returning home: Plan to have a family member or friend drive you home after your colonoscopy. Once you are home, you should drink a lot of fluids and you can eat, but we recommend resting from your normal activities.

You May Be Eligible for a Free Colonoscopy

discuss adding form - from Google Doc

No insurance? We offer free colon cancer screenings for eligible patients at four convenient locations in the Baltimore region.

  • You may be eligible for a free colon cancer screening if you are:
  • A Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or Anne Arundel County resident
  • Age 50 or older
  • Under 50 with symptoms or a family history of colon cancer
  • Living on a limited income

Worried that you won’t be able to afford treatment if your doctor finds colon cancer? We’ll help you with resources, including program funds to pay for your diagnosis and treatment. So, all you have to think about is how you want to spend your time with family and friends.

To find out if you qualify for a free colon cancer screening,
Call 410-350-8216

Call to Schedule Your Screening Today

1-877-715-HOPE

To find out if you qualify for a free colon cancer screening,
Call 410-350-8216

Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Learn more about:

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Many people don’t experience symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. Unfortunately, once symptoms begin, lung cancer has usually progressed to an advanced stage. That’s why early detection is critical to getting effective treatment.

Once lung cancer has progressed, the cancerous cells take up a large amount of space in the lungs which can cause symptoms, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent coughing that does not improve within a few weeks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Many of these symptoms can be confused with an upper respiratory infection. However, if they continue for a long time, it’s important to seek medical attention.

As the cancerous cells spread, you may experience additional symptoms, including:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Coughing up blood
  • Weight loss

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. We offer a free, six-week program to help you stop smoking and significantly reduce your risk for lung cancer.

Learn more about our free smoking cessation classes.

Call Us Today

443-777-1133

Our Locations

MedStar Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Angelos Center for Lung Diseases
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

Related:

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Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. It occurs when skin cells grow out of control, usually on the outer layer of skin that is exposed to sunlight. But, skin cancer can also be found in areas of your body that are not exposed to the sun.

There are different types of skin cancer based on where cancer begins. Your treatment will depend on the kind of skin cancer you have, as well as the size, severity, and location of cancer. When caught early, skin cancer can usually be treated, which is why regular screening is important.

Learn more about the different skin cancer types below:

 

Basal Cell Carcinoma

What it is: Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer that occurs on the top layer of skin called the epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and rarely spreads. However, once you have it, you are more likely to get it again in the same location or somewhere else on the body. Basal cell carcinoma is typically treated by a dermatologist and may require surgery.

What it looks like: Basal cell cancer is usually found on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, like the head, face, and neck. While all basal cell carcinomas may look different, the following warning signs may indicate a cancerous tumor:

  • A recurring open sore that bleeds or oozes
  • A pink or red growth that appears waxy
  • A flat lesion that is flesh-colored or brown

Learn more about the signs of skin cancer.

 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

What it is: Squamous cell carcinoma commonly occurs on parts of the body regularly exposed to the sun, such as your ears, face, or hands. The risk of squamous cell carcinoma increases if you:

  • Work outside and are frequently exposed to the sun
  • Are aging
  • Experienced severe sunburns when you were young
  • Were exposed to chemicals

Squamous cell carcinoma treatment usually involves surgery.

What it looks like: Squamous cell carcinoma usually looks like a hard, red bump or a scaly patch of skin that is larger than one inch. A sore that heals and returns can also be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma.

Learn more about skin cancer.

 

Melanoma

What it is: Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer, often triggered by sun exposure that leads to severe sunburn. Melanoma develops from the skin cells that give skin its color, called melanin pigment. Melanoma tends to be more aggressive than the other types of skin cancer and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma is diagnosed using a biopsy that requires a surgical incision. Many times, a surgical oncologist will also conduct a lymph node evaluation to see if melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

What it looks like: Melanoma can grow from an existing mole or suddenly appear as a new spot on otherwise healthy skin. Fair-skinned people are the most likely to develop melanoma, but melanoma can be found in people of all skin tones including black and brown. It’s important to see a doctor if you notice any of the following characteristics on a mole:

  • Asymmetry - Different shape on one side compared to the other
  • Borders - Uneven edges
  • Color - Black or different shades of light or dark brown
  • Diameter - Growing in size or a spot larger than the size of a pencil eraser
  • Evolving - Change to size or color

Learn more about melanoma.

 

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

What it is: Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare form of skin cancer, but it can return and spread aggressively once you get it. Unlike other types of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma can develop in people with diseases that affect the immune system, such as HIV.

What it looks like: Merkel cell carcinoma may appear as a shiny bump or lesion on or below the skin. It doesn’t hurt but it grows quickly and can be skin-colored, red, purple, or bluish-red. It may look similar to less-serious health conditions, such as an infected hair follicle.

Early diagnosis is important because that’s when Merkel cell carcinoma is most treatable. Talk to your doctor if you notice an unusual change to your skin, even if you don’t think it looks concerning.

Learn more about Merkel cell carcinoma.

Call us Today

410-248-8310

Our Locations

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

Maryland Melanoma Center
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Suite 2300
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

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