St. Inigoes Couple Welcomes First Baby of 2019

Leonardtown, Maryland – New Year’s Day brought one more reason for Rachel and John “Jay” Howson IV to celebrate: their second child, John “Jack” Yates Howson V, was born at 7:55 a.m. Jan. 1 at MedStar St. Mary's Hospital.

Rachel wasn’t due until Jan. 3, but woke up around 5 a.m. feeling uncomfortable, and shortly thereafter her water broke. The couple had been out late at a New Year’s Eve party and Jay admits he had only had a few hours of sleep when Rachel's labor started. Since labor with their first child – 2-year-old sister Zelena – had lasted for 36 hours, the couple was surprised their second baby was coming so quickly.

“I was determined not to have him in the car," Rachel said. “The birth was totally natural, but not because we planned it that way.”

Rachel and Jay didn’t have to wait long to meet the newest addition to their family. Jack was born just two hours and 37 minutes after Rachel’s labor pains started.

Rachel, a stay-at-home mom, and Jay, a physicist at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, didn't know they were having a boy and were equally surprised to be welcoming him on New Year's Day.

“I noticed when we signed in that ours was the first name under 2019,” said Jay.

Jack was the only baby born at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital on Jan. 1. He weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces and was 22 inches long.

“He's been getting a lot of attention,” said Rachel.

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

MedStar St. Mary’s Earns ‘A’ in Leapfrog’s National Hospital Safety Grades for Fall 2018

Leonardtown, Maryland MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital has been awarded an “A in The Leapfrog Group’s Fall 2018 Hospital Safety Grade, recognizing the hospital’s superior efforts in protecting patients from harm and meeting the highest safety standards in the United States.

The Leapfrog Group is a national organization committed to improving health care quality and safety for consumers and purchasers. The Safety Grade assigns an A, B, C, D or F grade to hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections, and other harms among those they are treating.

“Patient safety is our top priority. Our associates work tirelessly to create a safe environment for those trusted in our care,” said Christine R. Wray, president of MedStar St. Mary’s.

“Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grades recognize hospitals like MedStar St. Mary’s that focus on advancing patient safety,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “This ranking provides an important resource for patients, and a benchmark for hospitals, to determine how care at one hospital compares to others in a region. Hospitals that earn an A Hospital Safety Grade deserve to be recognized for their efforts in preventing medical harm and errors.”

Developed under the guidance of a National Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. The Hospital Safety Grade’s methodology is peer-reviewed and fully transparent, and the results are free to the public.

MedStar St. Mary’s was one of 855 facilities across the U.S. awarded an A in the Fall 2018 update of grades. Visit www.hospitalsafetygrade.org to learn more.

About The Leapfrog Group
Founded in 2000, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Leapfrog’s other main initiative, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Hospital Hosts Annual Gala to Benefit Healthcare Scholarships for Local Students

Members of the Philanthropy Committee of the hospital’s Board of Directors at the 2018 Gala: Beverly Wood, left; Vince Whittles; Lea Weaver; Karen Garner; Rick Tepel; and Christine Wray, hospital president.
Photo courtesy of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
Members of the Philanthropy Committee of the hospital’s Board of Directors at the 2018 Gala: Beverly Wood, left; Vince Whittles; Lea Weaver; Karen Garner; Rick Tepel; and Christine Wray, hospital president.

Leonardtown, Maryland – Attendees enjoyed a magical night down the rabbit hole at the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital 2018 Gala, held Nov. 16 at the Hollywood Social Hall.

Sponsored by the hospital and the Family of Francis Taylor, Sr., the annual black-tie affair featured a gourmet dinner and dessert by Ken’s Creative Kitchen of Annapolis with live entertainment by Paradigm. The hall was transformed into a whimsical experience for more than 500 guests.

Nearly $135,000 was raised in net proceeds to help fund scholarships through MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. To date, 149 scholarships have been awarded to local students pursuing healthcare careers in return for their commitment to bringing their expertise back to our facility.

Chances were sold to win one of two necklaces and an accompanying gentleman’s gift, courtesy of G&H Jewelers. Micheline Lopez-Estrada held the winning number and selected a stunning gemstone and diamond pendant as her prize.

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital would like to acknowledge this year’s contributors, especially the Family of Francis Taylor, Sr., this year’s Presenting Sponsor ($25,000).

The hospital also thanks and acknowledges:

Premiere Sponsors ($15,000):

  • Associates in Radiation Medicine
  • G&H Jewelers
  • Pam & Dave Jamieson
  • MedStar Shah Medical Group
  • The Cherry Cove Group
  • Christine Wray & John Felicitas

Diamond Sponsors ($10,000):

  • AMEWAS, Inc.
  • Servpro of St. Mary's & Calvert
  • Mary's Academy Class of '72
  • US Acute Care Solutions

 Platinum Sponsors ($6,000):

  • Anna Choi, MD & Richard Ferraro
  • Jayaraman Medical Associates, LLC
  • Karen & Stephen Michaels
  • ManTech International Corporation

Gold Sponsors ($4,000):

  • KBRwyle
  • Parlett Affiliated Companies
  • Printing Press, Inc.
  • Raley Watts & O'Neill
  • Something Special by Tracy
  • M. Davis, Inc. General Contractors

Silver Sponsors ($2,500):

  • ASEC, Inc.
  • C3 Innovations, Inc.
  • Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant
  • CMI General Contractors
  • College of Southern Maryland
  • CRGA Design
  • DCS Corporation
  • Fotheringill & Wade, LLC
  • Carrie Jennison & John Stenson
  • Old Line Bank
  • Sabre Systems, Inc.
  • Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative
  • Mary's College of Maryland
  • Taylor Gas Company, Inc.

Bronze Sponsors ($850):

  • Bank of America
  • Community Bank of the Chesapeake
  • John P. Crine, In Memory of Thelma Jean Crine
  • Dean Lumber Supply
  • Edward Jones
  • Kristine & John Greely
  • F. Taylor, Inc.
  • KIWI-TECH
  • Joan & Alfred Mattingly, Sr.
  • Midoula & Axis Healthcare Groups
  • Carol & Bill Moody
  • PAE Applied Technologies, LLC
  • Parran's Flooring Center
  • Kathy & Chris Perlick
  • Phocus Video
  • PNC Bank
  • & Mrs. Yahia Tagouri
  • Dawn & Nick Yeitrakis

Save the date for next year’s gala on Nov. 15, 2019! Visit Facebook.com/MedStarStMarys to view more event photos.

 

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

An “Alice in Wonderland”-style mural, illustrated by graphic arts students at Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center, completed the Rabbit Hole Lounge motif at this year’s Gala.
Photo courtesy of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
An “Alice in Wonderland”-style mural, illustrated by graphic arts students at Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center, completed the Rabbit Hole Lounge motif at this year’s Gala.

Drive-Thru Flu Vaccination Clinic Offered at MedStar St. Mary’s

Leonardtown, Maryland  – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is making it even easier to stay healthy this winter with a Drive-Thru Community Flu Vaccination Clinic to be held Saturday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to noon. The clinic will be offered on the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital campus under the breezeway in front of the Outpatient Pavilion behind the main hospital.

A $10 donation is requested for each vaccination, and insurance/Medicare will not be accepted. The Afluria Quadrivalent vaccine will be available to individuals 18 and older and will be administered by our staff. The quadrivalent vaccine is designed to protect against 2 influenza A strain viruses and 2 influenza B strain viruses. This vaccine is not suitable for any individuals who have an allergy to any components of the vaccine, including egg proteins or those who have previously suffered an allergic reaction to any influenza vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season brought large numbers of patients to outpatient clinics and emergency department for influenza-like illnesses for an extended period of time. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for everyone six months and older.

Call 301-475-6019 for more information about the Drive-Thru Community Flu Vaccination Clinic.

 

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

MedStar St. Mary’s Programs Featured in U.S. News & World Report

Leonardtown, Maryland – A recent article by U.S. News & World Report highlights Maryland’s efforts to improve access to health care in underserved areas of the state including Lexington Park in St. Mary’s County. The article features programs initiated and sustained by MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital as well as other community partners such as the St. Mary’s County Health Department.

Approximately $15 million was awarded to five zones in the state between 2013 and 2016 to help identify and fund initiatives to break down barriers to health care. Since the funding has ended, the hospital and community partners have worked to retain the programs put in place to continue to ensure residents of the area have access to quality care.

To read the article titled “Zoning in to keep patients out,” visit USNEWS.Com.

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Leonardtown, Maryland – The statistics are alarming. Between July 2016 and June 2017, there were 46 domestic violence related deaths in Maryland, according to the Maryland Network against Domestic Violence. One in four women and one in seven men report having been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And 30 to 60 percent of perpetrators of partner abuse also abused the children in the household, according to the CDC.

“There is no community that goes untouched by domestic violence,” said Stephen Michaels, MD, chief operating officer and chief medical officer of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. “During Domestic Violence Awareness month this October, we would like to remind our community that domestic violence can leave permanent physical and emotional scars for its victims, and the issue continues to be a priority for our hospital.”

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital began a domestic violence program in October 2013. The program was designed to educate and train hospital associates to identify victims and refer them to collaborating agencies. MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is one of only 10 hospitals in Maryland that has a domestic violence assessment program.

“In order to evolve our program,” said Dr. Michaels, “we will be creating a domestic violence workgroup as part of our Patient & Family Advisory Council for Quality & Safety.”

The  Patient & Family Advisory Council for Quality & Safety (PFACQS) is composed of patients, family members and/or friends of patients, and community leaders, as well as healthcare professionals who work together to improve patient care and the patient experience. Community partners who are directly involved in efforts to reduce domestic violence are invited to participate in the workgroup. Please call 301-475-6008 for more information.

“We look forward to working with our community partners to strengthen our efforts to support victims while reducing the incidence of domestic violence in our community,” said Dr. Michaels. “Our goal is always to ensure the health and safety of our patients, and do whatever we can to ensure our community is free of violence.”

Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Abuse for more information on domestic violence.

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

Diabetes Program Earns CDC Recognition

Leonardtown, Maryland – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recognized MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Diabetes Prevention Program, Simple Changes. The program was awarded CDC Full Recognition which is reserved for “programs that have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets all of the standards for CDC recognition,” according to a letter from the CDC.

To be recognized by the CDC, programs must:

  • Have trained lifestyle coaches who can help build participants’ skills and confidence to make lasting lifestyle changes
  • Have a diabetes prevention program coordinator who uses a CDC approved curriculum
  • Obtain a minimum average weight loss of 5 percent during the 12 month program
  • Submit program data related to attendance, weight loss, and physical activity

The CDC also requires at least 35 percent of participants in the programs be diagnosed with pre-diabetes through blood testing (or have a history of gestational diabetes).

As part of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital also offers a diabetes education program recognized by the American Diabetes Association and provided by a registered nurse and a dietician trained in diabetes management. 

Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Calendar for class information or call 301-475-6019.

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. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.

Could Your Vitamin Impact Blood Test Results?

Many doctor’s appointments begin with the same question: what medications are you taking? Though going through the list might feel tedious, it’s important to share an up-to-date rundown every time to determine how these drugs may interact with each other — and even how they could impact important blood tests.

Last fall, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert regarding the water-soluble vitamin B7, or biotin, frequently found in multivitamins and supplements. Daily biotin recommendations range from 5 to 35 micrograms, depending on one’s age, gender, and other factors including pregnancy. Biotin can also be ingested naturally through common foods such as sweet potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and spinach.

“Many dietary supplements promoted for hair, skin, and nail benefits contain biotin levels up to 650 times the recommended daily intake of biotin,” states the FDA. “Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results.”

The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events — including one death — related to biotin interference with lab tests. Biotin in patient samples can cause falsely high or falsely low results, depending on the test, and the influence of biotin may not always be apparent to healthcare providers or laboratories.

“Incorrect test results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis,” the FDA cautions. “For example, a falsely low result for troponin, a clinically important biomarker to aid in the diagnosis of heart attacks, may lead to a missed diagnosis and potentially serious clinical implications.”

High levels of biotin can skew common tests used to diagnose conditions including pregnancy, cancer, thyroid disease, heart disease, anemia, and other hormonal-related conditions. Fortunately, often only a day without taking the supplement is required for accurate test results.

Keep an up-to-date list of your current medications on file with your physician to have them available for other medical providers. Be sure to note if you are currently taking biotin, and consider bringing your labeled multivitamin to appointments to be sure its contents are recorded.

Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Laboratory to learn more about laboratory services offered through MedStar St. Mary’s and prepare for your next blood test.

MedStar St. Mary's Laboratory Centers 

Belmont Building
23000 Moakley St.
Suite 205, Leonardtown

East Run Center
45870 East Run Drive
Lexington Park

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
25500 Point Lookout Road
Leonardtown

The Vape Debate: This New Trend May Be Riskier Than You Think

The e-cigarette market has been on fire the past few years. With nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, according to the American Lung Association, these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are sparking renewed interest and debates around the use of tobacco products and the harmful effects of nicotine.

“We feel that it is important to educate the community on the potential harms and risks of vaping,” said Angela Cochran, director of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control for St. Mary’s County Health Department. “As the research evolves we continue to gain more knowledge on how e-cigarette use affects our health.”

In 2015, the Health Department created the VapeAware awareness campaign to help provide the latest information on this trendy smoking alternative. It also works with the Tobacco Free Living Action Team of the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership to improve tobacco-related health outcomes in the county.

“The Health Department works on reducing the use of all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” Angela said. “We try to focus on population-level strategies such as including e-cigarettes into smoke-free indoor air policies and restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail settings.”

What is particularly disturbing is the trend among adolescents and teens. According to the Maryland 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 42 percent of teen respondents in St. Mary’s County had tried electronic vapor products within the 30 days prior to taking the survey. 

“Recent reports are showing substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the likelihood youth and young adults will eventually begin using combustible tobacco cigarettes,” Angela said. “Despite the popularity of e-cigarettes, we continue to promote awareness through a comprehensive tobacco control program that focuses on prevention and cessation of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, among youth.”

Know the Health Risks

New studies are also showing that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as many would like to believe. Although not as toxic as smoking regular cigarettes, use of ENDS still comes with many risks including exposure to nicotine and other aerosols which are known cancer causers.

“Research on this is still pending in a few areas because long-term effects haven’t had a chance to be studied,” said Pam Laigle, BSN, RN, PCCN, clinical leader of the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehab Center. However, research has discovered other effects on the cardiovascular system as well as new evidence of what is called ‘popcorn’ lung, a serious and irreversible lung disease. “Anything other than breathing oxygen,” said Pam, “essentially is not good.”

Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Tobacco for more information on the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, the risks of tobacco use, and smoking cessation resources.

What is Vaping?

Electronic nicotine delivery systems, which include e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes, use a battery to heat liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings, and additives, which are inhaled into the lungs.

Know the Risks

► Exposure to Nicotine: Nicotine is highly addictive and adversely affects the heart, reproductive system, lungs, kidneys, etc., and may increase the risk of certain cancers.

► Exposure to Aerosols: Aerosols may contain harmful substances including cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep inside the lungs.

► Increases Risk of Using Other Tobacco Products: For teens and adolescents, serves as a gateway to using combustible cigarettes.

► Poisoning: Accidental exposure to even small amounts of liquid nicotine – as little as a teaspoon - can be fatal to children and a slightly larger amount could kill an adult.

► Burns: Batteries can explode causing severe injury.

More Than Skin Deep: Frequent Checks Important for Early Cancer Detection

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