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

By Leslie Harris

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

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

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

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.