Health fair raises men's health awareness

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 05:30 PM

It was the typical March Madness party. There were chips and soda, a big screen with game commentary playing full blast and ongoing arguments about the perfect tournament bracket.
But this was the waiting room of Carolina Urology Partners instead of a man cave. In a sneaky way to raise awareness about the risk of prostate cancer and other issues, the practice held its first March Madness Men's Health Fair Wednesday.
About 70 men signed up for free tests and exams, Carolina Urology Partners office manager Lisa Coley said. She said the basketball theme started out as a way to reach men.
"We wanted to do something to raise awareness about men's health issues," Coley said. "Most men like basketball, so we chose that as our theme for the health fair."
Carolina Urology partnered first with local doctors to spread the word about the health fair, but the media soon took notice.
"We hear so much about women's health issues, but you don't hear as much about men's health," Coley said. "It's just as important for men to be aware of the risks as they get older."
The prostate begins growing in men 40 and over. That growth can lead to development of cancer cells, enlarged prostate, prostatitis or a combination of conditions. Many men ignore symptoms, until they are unable to urinate or encounter some other serious indicator something is wrong, Carolina Urology physician Theodore Stamatakos said.
"Men oftentimes procrastinate going to see a physician and are often forced to see a physician by family members," Stamatakos said.
Stamatakos and fellow urologist Arthur Lim are the resident physicians at Carolina Urology, which has been a member of Union County's health provider's community for more than 20 years.
"You tend to catch things when they're developing early on if you have regular exams," Lim said. "The sooner we catch it, we have an early start fighting the disease if caught  before it gets out of hand."
While both men and women experience a variety of health problems as they age, those related to the prostate is the most common health problem in older men, Stamatakos said. They can have prostate infections, suffer from complications of an enlarged prostate or develop cancer.
Events like the health fair provides tests for prostate health, but it also educates men about risks and symptoms.
"This forum allows us to talk to them about specific issues and answer any questions they might have," Stamatakos said.
Men taking advantage of the health fair said regular checkups are not precisely fun, but it allows them to monitor their health.  
"I believe in keeping myself healthy," patient David Wicker said. "I believe in keeping my body healthy, my mind healthy and looking after my overall health."
Since the health fair proved a hit with patients, Carolina Urology staff will likely do it again.
"We hope to increase the awareness of male health issues and make this an annual event," Stamatakos said.