For newly diagnosed prostate disease patients and cancer survivors, a newly formed group meeting at the University of Maryland Medical Center will offer both support and a means of making better-informed decisions about treatment options. The new group is part of US TOO!, the largest men's cancer organization with more than 100,000 members and 550 chapters in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.
"Once prostate cancer is diagnosed, there is a tremendous sense of urgency and frustration," says Nancy Dawson, M.D., a prostate cancer specialist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, explaining the impetus behind the creation of the new local chapter of "US TOO!," an international support group founded in Chicago in 1990.
US TOO! aspires to assist prostate cancer patients in understanding their particular situations and in the decision-making process, according to Jim Anderson, regional director of the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland chapters of the support group.
"No decision should be finalized before one personally researches all available medical information and seeks a second or even third medical opinion," says Anderson, himself a prostate cancer survivor and active member and leader of the US TOO! support group program.
At most meetings, a prominent member of the medical profession speaks on some phase of the diagnosis, staging and/or treatment of prostate cancer. A topic of great interest is the duration and side effects of various treatment options as well as individual experiences.
The group's name, US TOO!, was a response to the name of a support group for breast cancer patients and survivors, called WHY ME?
The Baltimore chapter of US TOO! International will meet the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the University of Maryland Medical Center, 22 S. Greene St. Those interested in more information can call 410-328-7521.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in American men. It affects one out of every six men -- and is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. This year, nearly 180,000 American men will learn they have prostate cancer and 37,000 will die of this disease. By age 50, one-third of all American men have microscopic signs of the disease and by age 75, up to 75 percent of men have cancerous changes in their prostate.
Most of these cancers remain latent, producing no signs or symptoms, or they are so slow growing that they never become a serious threat to a man's health.
Statistically, 16 percent of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime; 8 percent will develop significant symptoms and 3 percent will die of the disease.
While the long-term outlook is good for most prostate cancer patients, this common cancer confronts men with a tough and often confusing decision-making process about how to treat their disease.
"The formation of the US TOO! support group is especially important in the metropolitan Baltimore area since Baltimore has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the country," says Dr. Dawson. She points out that the disease is disproportionately higher -- and more deadly -- in the African-American community.
African-American men, in fact, have the world's highest incidence of prostate cancer, a third higher than white Americans. The risk is more than 10 times higher for a man who has three close relatives with the disease.
"Getting the word out about early detection of prostate cancer and providing newly-diagnosed cancer patients with the most accurate and up-to-date information on the disease and the multitude of treatment options available is extremely important," says Dr. Dawson.
Dr. Dawson, an internationally known expert in the field of prostate cancer, heads the University of Maryland Division of Genitourinary Oncology and is a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She previously was chief of the Hematology/Oncology division at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, among other publications, and is a reviewer for several prestigious medical journals, including the American Journal of Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.
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