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FORUM DEALS WITH CANCER OF PROSTATE DOCTORS, OTHERS TO SPEAK.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

LANCASTER - A cancer diagnosed in one out of every six American men in their lifetimes will be the focus of a forum featuring doctors and other experts speaking about detection and treatment options.

Prostate cancer will kill 29,000 men in the United States this year, but in cases where the disease is detected early the survival rate is more than 95 percent at the five-year mark, according to Susan and Butch Baker, organizers of the third annual prostate cancer forum.

``It's like getting hit right between the eyes. You say, why me? What have I done to deserve this?'' said Butch Baker, a retired Air Force and Boeing employee who was diagnosed six years ago at age 54.

The prostate cancer forum is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Stanley Kleiner Building at Lancaster City Park, on 10th Street West south of Avenue K-8. Admission is free.

Speaking will be physicians and other experts, representing City of Hope National Medical Center, the USC Kenneth Norris Cancer Center and other organizations.

Guests will get a packet of information about prostate cancer, its detection and options for treatment. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided free.

The forum, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the city of Lancaster and more than two dozen businesses, is intended to educate Antelope Valley residents about the disease, Susan Baker said.

``I wish I had this information when I was diagnosed,'' Butch Baker said.

To get the word out, the Bakers handed out fliers at places where men are likely to see them: car parts stores, golf courses, barbershops and other businesses as well as medical offices.

Prostate cancer is a disease of a walnut-sized gland at the base of the spine. What causes it is not clear.

Mortality rates for prostate cancer are at an all-time low, the American Cancer Society said, which it attributed to increased use of the PSA - or prostate specific antigen - blood test to find prostate cancer early, when it might be more curable.

Generally a disease of older men, prostate cancer is usually a relatively slow-growing cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Some men now being diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer may end up dying of another cause long before the cancer would become a problem, the society says. Some treatments can lead to impotence and urinary incontinence.

The American Cancer Society advises men to talk to their doctors about prostate cancer beginning at age 50, and at age 45 for African-American men or men whose fathers or other male relatives have had the disease.

African-American men for unknown reasons are at higher risk than Caucasian-Americans. Asian-Americans are at less risk.

The Bakers note the early stages of the cancer provide no symptoms as a warning.

Butch Baker had PSA tests done routinely as part of his annual company physicals. His 1995 test came back at 2.4, within the ``normal'' or reference range of 0.0 to 4.0.

A year later it had climbed to 3.0 - still nothing to worry about according to the reference range, but a rectal exam raised some concerns. An ultrasound and biopsies didn't diagnose a malignancy.

A retest six months later showed his PSA level had jumped to 6.5. Another ultrasound exam and biopsy found a fast-growing prostate cancer.

``They need to be tested early,'' Susan Baker said of men in general.

The Bakers also coordinate a support group for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and their wives.

The Man to Man Support Group meets 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Lutheran Church of the Master, 725 E. Ave. J, Lancaster. About 30 to 35 people attend monthly, with a couple new participants each month, the Bakers said.

Women are welcome to attend.

``The wives feel this is a man's disease, but it's not. It's a couple's disease,'' Susan Baker said.

The group doesn't give out medical advice but members can provide each other information and support from a personal standpoint, the Bakers said. ``It's a place newly diagnosed men can come to find out about all the different options, plus talk to somebody who has already gone through that procedure,'' Butch Baker said.

For information, call the Cancer Society office at (661) 945-7585, and press 3, or call Susan Baker at (661) 273-2200.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 9, 2003
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