Preventing Urologic Cancer

The urologic oncology specialists and researchers at MedStar treat hundreds of patients with urologic and rare cancers each year, with prostate cancer as the most common. Many patients wonder "how could I have prevented this?" or "how can my children prevent this?"

Scientific investigations into cancer risk factors are constant and ongoing and there are known risks you can take into consideration right away. Smoking is one of the clearest risk factors across all urologic cancers. At the same time, there seems to be a never-ending list of substances (like artificial sweeteners, aspirin, and soymilk) said to cause cancer, though there are no conclusive studies. Also, history has shown us that things believed to cause cancer are often later shown to help fight it, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, if you have a genetic tie to the disease, there is no way to prevent it, but there are ways to be better prepared through genetic counseling.

Urologic Cancer Risk Factors

The best thing you can do for yourself is to lead a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking, get regular exercise, and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Never miss your annual screenings and, if you have a family history of cancer, make your screenings and examinations an even higher priority.

  • Stop smoking - known to contribute to renal, bladder, penile and prostate cancer, and makes fighting off any disease more challenging.
  • Maintain a normal body weight and control blood pressure - which can help prevent renal and prostate cancer.
  • Use condoms - this helps to prevent the spread of human papillomavirus, which can lead to cancers in both men and women.
  • Limit exposure to toxic chemical and paint products.
  • Mediterranean diet - some studies show a diet focused on healthy oils, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins is connected to lower rates of cancer.
  • Practice good hygiene of the genital area.
  • Perform regular self checks - like a monthly self-check for testicular cancer.
  • Attend annual check-ups - never miss your annual visit to the doctor. If you have a family history, screenings might be more frequent.

Smoking Cessation at MedStar

Are you ready to be smoke free? Quitting smoking is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to prevent cancers and a host of other diseases. MedStar Health provides FREE smoking cessation support through Stop Smoking Today, designed to help you kick the habit for good.

Stop Smoking Today is a six-week program taught by nurses who are certified tobacco treatment specialists (CTTS). The program is designed to provide highly motivated adults with lifestyle and habit counseling and to provide the encouragement needed to become smoke free.

Genetic Counseling

Family history of urologic cancer is a known risk factor for patients, but newer research has even connected breast cancer in the family as a risk factor for prostate cancer. Genetic counseling can help assess your risk of urologic cancers based on your family medical history of urologic and other cancers with known correlations to urologic cancers.

Meet our certified genetic counselor

Urologic Cancer Care at MedStar Health

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 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

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
3333 North Calvert St.
Johnston Professional Bldg
G23
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-515-6090

Urologic Cancers We Treat

MedStar Health specializes in the detection and latest treatments of all types of genitourinary or urologic cancers, which affect the organs, glands and passageways of the urinary and reproductive systems. Across our network, we offer a full range of services personalized to you and your unique case.

Your MedStar team applies the newest research to give you the best chance of survival, including access to treatments through clinical trials. We also track and treat rare cases that less coordinated care centers might not. The urologic cancers we treat include:

Male-Specific Urologic Cancers

  • Prostate cancer develops in a male reproductive gland about the size and shape of a walnut. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, but is quite treatable when detected early.
  • Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in one or both testicles. Though it can occur at any age, it's more common in younger men. Most often, it is confined to one testicle. Monthly testicular self-exams for lumps or changes in the testicles help with early detection and, typically, full recovery.
  • Penile cancer is typically found on the foreskin or the glans (head) of the penis. There are no widely recommended screening tests for penile cancer, but many cancers can be detected early and treated.

Cancers That Affect Everyone

  • Bladder cancer occurs most frequently in older adults, but anyone can be diagnosed. The cancer most commonly develops in the lining of the bladder. Early detection is common as an initial symptom, blood in the urine, is easy to spot.
  • Kidney cancer is sometimes difficult to detect and there is no current regular screening. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults.
  • Urethral cancer forms in the tube that carries urine from the bladder. In men, the urethra travels through the penis and also carries semen. Though men carry a higher risk than women, urethral cancer is rare.
  • Adrenal cancer, also known as adrenal gland cancer, affects the adrenals, small glands that sit on top of each kidney.

Are you struggling with a new urologic cancer diagnosis? Need a second opinion or more advanced care? Call 1-877-715-HOPE or find a urologic cancer specialist.

Urologic Cancer Care at MedStar Health Cancer Network

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 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

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
3333 North Calvert St.
Johnston Professional Bldg
G23
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-515-6090

Urologic Cancers Team

Urologic Cancer MedStar Health Cancer Network
Members of the Urologic Cancer Team

The urologic cancer team at MedStar Health are recognized experts in the treatment of prostate, kidney, bladder, and other urologic cancers. Our multidisciplinary team is committed to eliminating your cancer while minimizing the effects of treatment on your general health and lifestyle.

Specialized in personalized combinations of the latest cancer-fighting techniques, our team includes surgeons from many specialties, medical and radiation oncologists, specialized nurses, physical therapists, genetic counselors, enterostomal therapists, clinical researchers, physician assistants, palliative care experts and more.

Are you struggling with a new urologic cancer diagnosis? Need a second opinion or more advanced care? We're ready to fight for you. Call 1-877-715-HOPE or find a urologic cancer specialist.

Meet Dr. Geoffrey Sklar, Chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology

Find a Urologic Specialist

 

 

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 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

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
3333 North Calvert St.
Johnston Professional Bldg
G23
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-515-6090

Urologic Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials
Jean Flack, Manager, Oncology Research, and Kristie Davalli, Nurse Practioner 

As you navigate your journey with urologic cancer, a clinical trial can provide the best standard of treatment. Often, participants get access to treatments years before they are available to the public.

Clinical trials are research studies that test new drugs, treatments, or medical procedures to determine their effectiveness and safety. These studies help to inform doctors and scientists about new and emerging cancer therapies, how they should be used, and which patients will benefit the most from these approaches.

Almost every standard cancer treatment currently in use was first made available to patients who participated in clinical trials.

The MedStar Health Research Institute conducts clinical investigations to improve the ability to diagnose and treat patients with urologic tumors. By participating in a clinical study at MedStar Health, you can not only play an active role in the treatment of your cancer, but possibly help others with urologic cancers in the future.

Because MedStar Health has an NCI-affiliated Cancer Center, we have access to the latest clinical trials available. Patients who participate in clinical trials receive, often at reduced or no cost:

  • The most advanced treatment options possible
  • Specialized, coordinated team-based care
  • You may be among the first to benefit from a new therapy
  • An opportunity to help future cancer patients

How to Participate in a Clinical Trial for Urologic Cancer

To find out more about clinical trials taking place at the MedStar Health Research Institute, please call 301-560-7300.

The search for a clinical trial begins with your doctor. They will know which trials are available and what is most appropriate to explore based on your cancer type and stage. You can also search for trials online several ways:

Clinical Trials Frequently Asked Questions 

Urologic Cancer Care at MedStar Health 

Contact Us

Call 301-560-7300 to discuss urologic cancer clinical trials at the MedStar Health Research Institute.

Learn More

Urologic Cancer

Geoffrey Sklar, MD, Chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology

The MedStar Difference

A urologic cancer diagnosis can be shattering news for patients and their families. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with - or are worried you have symptoms of - prostate, kidney, bladder, urethral or testicular cancer, the experts at MedStar will fight for your full recovery and return to a cancer-free life. Our mission is singular - to target your cancer and cure it with the least impact to your daily life and future health.

Our integrated urologic cancer team - including oncologists, geneticists, and surgeons - delivers the newest and most new promising treatments and innovations to patients with all forms of urologic cancers. We also provide our patients access to clinical trials, connecting them to the latest medical treatments, often before they are released on the market.

Are you struggling with a new urologic cancer diagnosis? Need a second opinion or more advanced care? We're ready to fight for you. Call1-877-715-HOPE or find a urologic cancer specialist.

Annual Prostate Screenings Saves Lives

About one in every nine men will develop prostate cancer. The good news is, when caught in the early stages, prostate cancer is highly treatable. Because early-stage prostate cancer typically has no symptoms, it is very important to have an annual screening.

You and your MedStar Health doctor should discuss how and when prostate screening is best for you. Typically, annual screenings should begin at age 50. For men with a family history of cancer, African-American men, and those with other known risk factors, recommended screenings often begin at an earlier age.

Learn more about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment at MedStar.

David is Cancer Free After Early Detection and CyberKnife

Long-time MedStar employee, David Winfield, knew he had a higher risk of prostate cancer due to family history. Because he kept up on regular screenings, the doctors at MedStar caught his cancer early. David's team decided CyberKnife was right for him. Today, he's focused on family, guitar lessons with his brother, and thriving in a cancer-free life.

Do you have a family history of prostate cancer? Need a second opinion or more advanced care? Call 1-877-715-HOPE or find a urologic cancer specialist.

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 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

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
3333 North Calvert St.
Johnston Professional Bldg
G23
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-515-6090

Support Services

Cancer Support Services MedStar Health
Billie Ferguson, Oncology Social Worker, with Patient

The journey through urologic cancer is about so much more than treatment. It's about the total experience, which includes both good days and tough days. It's about your family and loved ones whose lives are also impacted by the disease.

If you are undergoing treatment for bladder, prostate, kidney, urethral or any of the urologic cancers - or if you are a survivor - you will need extra support beyond your core treatment plan. The MedStar Health Cancer Network provides a team-based, compassionate approach to whole-person care. We understand the unique challenges and needs you will face before, during and after your treatment and will connect you to the specialists and support you need most.

During your treatment process, you will likely meet our genetic counselors, social workers, nutritionists, dedicated nurse navigators, and chaplains who collectively focus on maximizing your physical and emotional state and empowering you and your loved ones. We can also help provide financial counseling and assistance to help you deal with insurance, billing, and to help make the financial impacts of a major medical issue less stressful and confusing.

Cancer Rehabilitation

After you have completed your treatment for urologic cancer, rehabilitation can help improve your strength and decrease your pain. Our rehabilitation experts can help you manage fatigue and conserve energy and deal with your individual challenges of daily living. Learn more about cancer rehabilitation

Support Services

Our cancer support services focus on building your strength and allowing you to take control of your life. Some of our services include:

  • Financial Assistance - financial counselors are trained to assist with any questions or concerns you may have about the cost of care, and can help determine if you may qualify for financial assistance.
  • Integrative Therapy - to support the healing of the mind and body, including massage therapy and therapeutic yoga. These services are available at several MedStar Health Cancer Network locations.
  • Nutrition Counseling - can help you maximize your treatment, recover faster from surgery, and regain strength after chemotherapy.
  • Psychosocial and Pastoral Counseling - our spiritual counselors provide you and your loved ones with a listening ear and coping strategies to deal with the complexities of a cancer diagnosis.
  • Survivorship Planning and Counseling - to assist with the difficult transition back to everyday medical care after urologic cancer treatment, ensuring your long-term health. To learn more about the cancer support services available through the MedStar Health Cancer Network call 877-715-HOPE (4673).

Genetic Counseling

Family history of urologic cancer is a known risk factor for patients, but newer research has even connected breast cancer in the family as a risk factor for prostate cancer. Genetic counseling can help assess your risk of urologic cancers based on your family medical history of urologic and other cancers with known correlations to urologic cancers.

Meet our certified genetic counselor.

Urologic Cancer Care at MedStar Health

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 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

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
3333 North Calvert St.
Johnston Professional Bldg
G23
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
12 MedStar Blvd.
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-515-6090

Colon Cancer Prevention

 

If you are age 50 or older, talk with your doctor about colon cancer screenings. If you have one or more risk factors for colon cancer, your doctor may want you to have screening exams earlier and more often.

Some people inherit colon cancer, but, in most people, no identifiable cause exists. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, not smoking, and getting exercise may help prevent colon cancer but, without a known cause, prevention is challenging. This is why screenings are important.

Beginning at age 50, men and women who are at average risk for developing colon cancer should be screened. Health care providers may suggest one or more of the tests listed below for colorectal cancer screening.

Colonoscopy: A lighted instrument called a colonoscope is used to inspect the  rectum and entire colon. Colonoscopy can find precancerous or cancerous growths throughout the colon, including the upper part of the colon, where they would be missed by sigmoidoscopy. A colonoscopy allows a physician to examine the entire large intestine (colon) for abnormalities, such as ulcers or benign polyps. If polyps are found, they will be removed during the procedure, reducing the risk of colon cancer. Having a colonoscopy is painless, as you will receive sedation and are asleep during the procedure.

Double Contrast Barium Enema: X-rays of the colon and rectum are taken after the patient is given an enema with a barium solution and air is introduced into the colon. The barium and air help to outline the colon and rectum on the X-rays.

Fecal Occult Blood Test: This test checks for hidden blood in the stool. Studies have proven that this test, when performed every 1 to 2 years in people age 50 to 80, reduces the number of deaths due to colon cancer.

Sigmoidoscopy: A lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope is used to examine the rectum and lower colon. Sigmoidoscopy can find pre-cancerous or cancerous growths in the rectum and lower colon. Studies suggest that regular screening with sigmoidoscopy after age 50 can reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.

Stool DNA Test: This test checks for colon cancer of all stages and in all locations in the colon.

Colon Cancer Symptoms

Colon cancer occurs in the last two parts of the digestive system:  the colon (large intestine) or rectum (connects the colon and the anus). Most colon cancers begin as small abnormal growths of tissue called polyps that form in these areas of the digestive system. A polyp is not cancer, but it can change over time into cancer.

By knowing the symptoms and taking preventative steps through screening colon cancer is beatable when caught early.

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, or the feeling that the bowel has not emptied
  • Unusually narrow stools
  • A bloody stool
  • Bloating, cramping, fullness, and/or frequent gas pains
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Continuous fatigue
  • Vomiting

If you experience symptoms for more than two weeks, see your doctor. These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it's important to consult with your MedStar Health doctor to determine whether they are connected to colon cancer or some other condition.

Individuals with colon polyps or cancer may have no symptoms at all, especially at first. By the time most symptoms appear, the cancer is already growing, making it harder to treat. It is important to get screened, pay attention to your body and be on the lookout for anything that is not normal.

TO SCHEDULE A COLONOSCOPY, PLEASE CALL

1-877-715-HOPE.

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

Patient Story

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Edward McCarron Colorectal Colon Cancer

Edward McCarron, MD, Surgical Oncologist, with patient

Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop colon cancer. Knowing your risks will help you and your doctor make the best health choices for you.

Colon cancer risk factors may include:

  • Age—Most colon cancers are found in people over 50. It is recommended at the age of 50 to schedule your first colonoscopy.
  • Race or background—African-American or Jewish with an Eastern European backgrounds are at a higher risk.
  • Medical history—People with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, or previous cancers have higher risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Family medical history—Close family members with colon cancer, as well as some conditions passed down through families, raise the risk.
  • Lifestyle—The links between diet, weight and exercise and colon cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Some evidence suggests that colon cancer may be associated with a diet that is high in fat and calories and low in foods with fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

History Questions:

  1. Do you have a first-degree relative (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) with colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, urinary tract (including bladder, ureter or kidney) gastric, small bowel, biliary, pancreatic, or brain cancer diagnosed before age 50?
  2. Have you had colorectal caner or polyps diagnosed before age 50?
  3. Do you have at least three relatives with colorectal cancer?

If you answered yes to any of this questions or have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce your risk, especially lifestyle factors that you can change.

Learn more about the risk factors and treatments options for colon cancer in the video below.

Prevention and Smoking Cessation

 

Symptoms

Lung cancer has no symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms occur, the disease has usually reached an advanced stage. At that point, symptoms can include

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing that does not improve within a few weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Because symptoms occur when the disease is so advanced, knowing your risks is extremely important.

Risks and Prevention

People are at a higher risk for developing lung cancer if they were exposed to the following behaviors and substances:

  • The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. It can be attributed to more than 85 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. Harmful substances in tobacco damage cells in the lungs. Stopping smoking greatly reduces a person's risk for developing lung cancer. 
    • A recent study by the National Cancer Institute found that screening current or former heavy smokers with a computed tomography (CT) scan can reduce deaths from lung cancer (by 20 percent among those ages 55-74 with a 30-pack year history of cigarette smoking.).
    • This study is the first of its kinds to confirm a significant improvement in survival in high-risk smokers who undergo screening with CT scans.
    • To determine the next step in getting screened for lung cancer, consider contacting MedStar Health at 1-877-715-HOPE for more information.
  • Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibers and are used in certain industries. Asbestos fibers tend to break easily into particles that can float in the air and stick to clothes. When the particles are inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs, damaging cells and increasing the risk for lung cancer.
  • Radon is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rocks. It can cause damage to the lungs and lead to lung cancer. Smokers who are exposed to radon or asbestos have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), or secondhand smoke, is called involuntary or passive smoking. People exposed to ETS or second-hand smoke are at risk for developing lung cancer.
  • Lung diseases such as tuberculosis also increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer.

If caught in its early stages, up to 80 percent of lung cancer is potentially curable. 

Smoking Cessation Program

MedStar Health offers a six-week program program designed to provide highly motivated adults with practical counseling, support and the encouragement needed to become smoke free.  The cost is FREE, includes class instructions, program materials and convenient parking. 

Learn more about Smoking Cessation and upcoming programs.

 

 

Learn More From Our Experts

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 1-877-715-HOPE.

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
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225 

Learn More

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