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September 16, 2009 > Men's Health: Focus on Lung and Prostate Health

Men's Health: Focus on Lung and Prostate Health

Men's Health Fair Panelists Share Knowledge for Improving Men's Health

Important men's health topics range from prostate and lung health to sleep disorders and diabetes. On Saturday, Oct. 3, Washington Hospital will give men the opportunity to learn vital information about these topics and more from a panel of health care specialists.

The Men's Health Fair at Washington Hospital will take place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. Health care panelists speaking at the fair will include physicians specializing in lung health, urology and sleep disorders, as well as a dietitian, who will focus on preventing diabetes through nutrition. Attendees will also have access to a number of booths and men's health screenings, including prostate screening.

Registration for the health fair is required and pre-qualification for the prostate screening (separate registration) is required. Call (800) 963-7070 to register. (Sorry, no walk-ins).

Dr. Jason Chu, a Washington Hospital Medical Staff physician specializing in pulmonary care, will tackle important lung health issues, including:
* Lung cancer
* COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)
* Influenza season

"Lung cancer is mostly avoidable, but hard to treat," Dr. Chu explains. "It is still the most preventable form of cancer because tobacco use accounts for 90 percent of cases. I want to stress the importance of smoking cessation because it's never too late to quit. The timing for lung damage starts at your first cigarette, and the damage gradually progresses over years. Still, the damaged lung can improve if you quit. If you smoke for ten years, it will take ten years to get your lung function back."

Dr. Chu will discuss types of lung cancer, symptoms and why lung cancer is so difficult to diagnose in early stages, as well as why it's important for non-smokers to be aware of the causes of the remaining 10 percent of lung cancer cases, which include second-hand smoke, radon, dust, asbestos and air pollution.
He notes that lung cancer affects more than just the diagnosed individual and advises both patients and family members to seek out education and support.
"The American Cancer Society ( has a wealth of information about support groups and connecting with others," he says.

Dr. Chu will also discuss COPD, which remains a major health issue.

"COPD is a disease of smoking as well, so it ties in well to this discussion," he notes. "I think the underlying definition is that COPD is preventable and treatable, but it does impact patients' feeling of wellbeing, and it is progressive."

COPD, which results in airflow limitation, becomes more burdensome as the disease progresses, and Dr. Chu says it is very important to get diagnosed early and receive treatment before frequent trips to the emergency room become a common occurrence.

Though it is often mistaken for asthma, COPD is a very different disease, but should be treated just as seriously.

"COPD patients will typically develop the disease later in life, whereas asthma develops early in life - usually during childhood," he explains. "What also differentiates it is that COPD occurs daily, unlike asthma, which can be intermittent. COPD is also a constant progression. Smoking is tied in highly to COPD, whereas asthma can be allergy and family history related. COPD is more linked to exertion, and a person's limitations become more noticeable with activity. Also, unlike asthma, COPD is also more irreversible if left untreated."
Lastly, with flu season fast approaching, Dr. Chu will talk about influenza. The flu season generally begins in September or October. The most common occurrence of the flu takes place during late December through early February, according to Dr. Chu.

"Flu is seasonal, and there are different types," he says. "It is generally mild, but can be severe. Onset can occur relatively suddenly, it spreads rapidly, and can be severe. Flu kills 36,000 people in the U.S. yearly."

Dr. notes that many people are worried about H1N1, also known as the swine flu, but he says the disease is not that much different from the regular flu.

"You do not ingest swine flu from eating pork; swine are not the source of infection," he says. "H1N1 is spread through droplets in the air just like the regular flu. Symptoms are similar to the regular flu, with added gastrointestinal symptoms in about 25 percent of cases. Its prevalence is higher during the flu season, and it spreads the same way. Hopefully there will be a vaccine by end of the year."

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, body ache, cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing. As part of his talk, Dr. Chu will cover the most effective ways to avoid the flu, including getting vaccinated, avoiding people who are sick and the best hand-washing practices.

Also featured during the panel discussion will be Dr. Rao Sunkavally, a Washington Hospital Medical Staff physician specializing in urology.

Dr. Sunkavally will focus his portion of the panel discussion on the prostate, a gland that stores and secretes fluid that combines with sperm and seminal vesicle fluid to make up semen.

Cancer of the prostate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is by far the most prevalent form of cancer in men, but there are also many common benign (non-cancerous) conditions that can affect the prostate, including inflammation and enlarged prostate.

"When it comes to enlarged prostate, a lot of people have issues they tend to ignore because enlargement tends to have a slow onset," Dr. Sunkavally says. "But enlargement can cause issues like infections and prostatitis that must be addressed.

"During my talk, audience members are going to learn about how to identify some of the symptoms relating to enlarged prostate and what to look for, as well as the screening process for prostate cancer and why it is important to screen. I want them to appreciate why it is critical to ask questions about treatments and choices."

He also will address common misunderstandings about prostate cancer screening.
"There has been a lot of controversy about screening, and there is a misconception in the public about prostate cancer awareness and whether screening will make any difference in the approach to treatment," he says.

To hear more from Dr. Chu and Dr. Sunkavally about lung and prostate health, join them for the panel discussion at the upcoming Men's Health Fair at Washington Hospital, taking place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

To register, call (800) 963-7070. (Registration is required.)

Next week, read more about the Men's Health Fair panel discussion topics, including how a common sleep disorder can increase erectile dysfunction and effective ways to prevent diabetes.

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