Volume 12 - September 29, 2020
Friends & Colleagues,

Whenever it’s possible at UNLV Medicine, we want to make appointments more convenient for our patients. With that in mind, in mid-November we’re combining our two ear, nose and throat offices. Currently, as many of you know, one office is in Summerlin and the other in Spring Valley. No longer will you have to go to one place for an ENT generalist and another for an ENT surgeon. Our new suite of offices, a kind of one stop shop, will be at 5320 S. Rainbow Blvd, right next to Spring Valley Hospital. And that’s not all that will be new in ENT. In today’s newsletter, we profile a new specialist, Dr. Harry Ching, who’s not only trained in head & neck surgery, but facial plastic surgery as well. This is just one more way that UNLV Medicine is transforming medical care in Las Vegas.

Michael Gardner, MD, MPH, MMM
President & CEO, UNLV Medicine
Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs
UNLV School of Medicine

Medicine By The Numbers

Brain & Spinal Cord Tumors

According to the American Cancer Society, brain and spinal cord tumors in both adults and children in the United States for 2020 reveal: 

  • About 23,890 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord (13,590 in males and 10,300 in females) will be diagnosed. These numbers would be much higher if benign (non-cancer) tumors were also included.

  • About 18,020 people (10,190 males and 7,830 females) will die from brain and spinal cord tumors.

Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1%.

The risk of developing any type of brain or spinal cord tumor is slightly higher among women than among men, although the risk of developing a malignant tumor is slightly higher for men than for women. This is largely because certain types of tumors are more common in one gender or the other (for example, meningiomas are more common in women).

Dr. Harry Ching Strengthens UNLV Medicine's Already Outstanding ENT Department
Dr. Harry Ching brings a valuable skill set to the UNLV Medicine ENT department. In addition to his otolaryngology background, he is fellowship trained in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Is there a doctor in the house?

That question, heard from time to time in restaurants and at meetings and events when an emergency occurs, may well be answered with a quintet’s chorus of “Yes” if Dr. Harry Ching and his extended family happen to be on hand. 

You see, Dr. Ching, who starts work Thursday with the UNLV Medicine Otolaryngology department, where ear, nose and throat services are provided, has a brother and three cousins who are MDs.  

“The practice of medicine just happens to be something we enjoy,” says Ching, who notes that his brother specializes in anesthesiology and his cousins in vascular surgery, allergy/immunology and general ENT. 

Ching, a graduate of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, completed a otolaryngology-head & neck surgery residency at UNLV prior to recently finishing further fellowship training in facial plastic & reconstructive surgery at the University of California, Irvine.

“My parents (his dad was an electrical engineer and his mother worked in IT) were very big on education,” Ching recalls, pointing out that his parents and some of their brothers and sisters immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. "Education was always the #1 priority growing up...They didn’t push me into any...field, but they did mention...medicine would be a good field.”  

Science first became an interest of Ching’s because of computers. He and his older brother would tear one apart and then learn to build them in the living room when they were in elementary and middle school. 

“If you knew how to build computers back then, it was pretty affordable to build them from scratch. That got me interested in engineering and electronics. When I became exposed to the traditional sciences in school, I found that I had a knack for the type of conceptual thinking that is needed in things like physics and chemistry. Biology was fascinating as well.”

With his older brother and cousins already pursuing medicine, Ching says his interest morphed into that area also. Wanting to learn more about the healthcare field during his undergraduate years at University of California, Berkeley -- he earned a bachelor’s degree there in bioengineering -- Ching became a volunteer at Oakland Children’s Hospital, transporting children and caring for them in the playroom. He also shadowed a couple of physicians to learn more about their day-to-day work. 

“I loved the idea of the art of medicine, interacting with patients on a personal level and finding out about them through discussion and exams in order to solve their problems.” 

Ching says he chose to pursue a specialty at UNLV in otolaryngology-head & neck surgery “because of how unique it is within the surgical specialties. The anatomy of the head and neck is intricate. The breadth of the surgery within the specialty is quite amazing -- everything from large cancer removal to plastic surgery to functional surgeries, including giving deaf children the ability to hear, surgery to improve the voice and allowing people to breathe.”

He says he went on to further specialize in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery “because of the artistic aspect and the problem solving aspects I very much enjoy. We apply our knowledge of anatomy and create changes to do things such as improve an aesthetic appearance, improve function, such as breathing through the nose, or reconstruct an area that has been damaged by cancer or trauma. Because of what a huge impact this has on a patient’s life, it is very rewarding, especially because it deals with a patient’s face. A patient’s problem and each surgery can be approached in multiple ways, and the problem solving involved in order to come up with the best solution for the patient makes every case interesting.” 
"I want to pass what I know on. There’s definitely a shortage and a need for my sub-specialty and ENT in general in this city. Since I did residency here, I was pretty familiar with the opportunity that this gives me, and I already know the other docs in the department well. It was a great fit.” -- Dr. Harry Ching
Ching, who’s performed successful surgery on a motorcyclist who broke every bone in his face, also remembers a surgery that the COVID-19 pandemic made more difficult.

“Because the nose is such a central focus of the face, its reconstruction is quite sensitive...We had to take out part of a patient’s rib in order to have cartilage to reconstruct the skeleton of the nose...At the same time we had to use tissue from the patient’s forehead in order to reconstruct the skin of the nose. The way we do this is to take take tissue from the forehead and keep it attached to forehead and let it heal on the nose. After about 3-4 weeks we then detach the connection between the forehead and the nose. However, COVID happened in the middle of this process and the patient was delayed an unusually long time, about 3 to four months where he had a pedicle of tissue going from his forehead to the tip of his nose. This was a challenge for him but eventually we were able to do his second and third surgeries in order to bring his nose back close to how it was before his cancer.” 

At the UNLV School of Medicine, Ching is looking forward to teaching -- “I want to pass what I know on” -- and to a facial plastic surgery practice. “Nearly all academic ENT departments have a facial plastic surgeon. Before me, the ENT department at UNLV hasn’t had a subspecialist in facial plastic surgery in many years...There’s definitely a shortage and a need for my sub-specialty and ENT in general in this city. Since I did residency here, I was pretty familiar with the opportunity that this gives me, and I already know the other docs in the department well. It was a great fit.” 

Dr. Ching has particular interests in the treatment of nasal obstruction, sinus disease, nasal deformity, reconstruction of the face for skin cancer, and facial trauma. He also performs cosmetic surgery of the face -- rhinoplasty, facelift, blepharoplasty, brow lift, Asian eyelid surgery, scar revision, Botox, and injectable filler treatments.  

He’ll also continue his research. Ching’s published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including Head & Neck and Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Journal. “Research is important in order for us to advance the specialty’s knowledge and skills.”

Though COVID-19 has made him delay his marriage ceremony, Ching says that what helps him mellow out through this difficult time is going to the gym. Turns out his gym is a tad different than what most Las Vegans use. Called the Las Vegas Circus Center, it offers programs for professionals as well as those just starting their exploration into the circus arts. He does flips on the trampoline, tumbling, walks on his hands, does exercises on the rings and swings on the trapeze.

“It’s a cool gym,” he says. “I use it just for recreation, but it definitely gives you a good workout.” 
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Interviewed: Dr. Johan Bester
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