Major cancer forum builds bridges of understanding--event addresses commonalties between breast and prostate cancer

November 07, 2000

The American Cancer Society and the University of California, San Francisco have teamed up to present Healing Choices, Bridging Communities 2000, the first major forum in California to address commonalties between breast and prostate cancer.

On November 18, community leaders, nationally renowned medical experts and cancer survivors will lead this innovative, day-long dialogue on issues such as risk reduction; intimacy after treatment; integrative therapies; advocating for one's own health; and overcoming the often devastating emotional impact of a breast or prostate cancer diagnosis.

Breast and prostate cancer, the most common cancers (other than skin cancer) among women and men respectively, have many factors in common, according to forum co-chair Marc Shuman, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center Genito-Urinary Cancer Program. "The two diseases have similar risk factors, overlapping treatment pathways and comparable implications for emotional health and intimate relations," Shuman said.

Among the similarities that presenters will address are shared risk factors. Research suggests, for example, that regular physical activity and a diet low in fat may reduce the risk of both diseases.

Experts will also address commonalties in the way the diseases impact intimacy. Because of the role the breast and prostate play in intimate relationships, cancers of both organs are often accompanied by concerns about how the diseases may affect a person's sexuality.

Breast and prostate cancer are also similar in that they are hormonally influenced and both are sometimes treated by hormone-blocking drugs. For both diseases this course of treatment can further affect sexual relationships and heighten concerns about gender identity, Shuman said.

Forum attendees will have the opportunity to discuss these issues and have their questions answered by experts and cancer survivors in the company of their spouse or partner.

"In traditional support groups and information sessions people talk about breast and prostate cancer primarily in the company of others with the disease," explained Shuman. "This forum provides people with the important opportunity to discuss their concerns alongside their partner, on whom they rely for support and who may be involved in their treatment decisions."

San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., will kick off the event by welcoming participants. Numerous other community leaders and experts will speak including U.S. Sen. Jackie Speier (D-CA), and San Francisco City Supervisor Mark Leno; Andy Grove, a prostate cancer survivor and the chairman of Intel Corporation; and Ernie Bodai, MD, a prostate cancer survivor, originator of the breast cancer stamp and director of Breast Health Services at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

This year, prostate cancer will strike an estimated 21,180 California men, and will kill 3,285. During the same period, approximately 20,045 California women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 4,380 will lose their lives to the disease.

Healing Choices, Bridging Communities 2000, will be held at UCSF, Cole Hall, 513 Parnassus Avenue. Tickets are $10. Space is limited. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (650) 578-9902, extension 310. To learn more about cancer in general or for referrals to local services, call the American Cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345.
Note: Media representatives who would like to attend are asked to call Leslie Harris at UCSF at 415-885-7277 or Mariah Blake at the American Cancer Society at 510-452-5229, ext. 319.

University of California - San Francisco

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