A conference of leading experts on prostate cancer that is geared toward informing patients is scheduled for October 19-22, 2006 in Reston, Virginia. The site, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., is convenient to Dulles International Airport, and is within site-seeing distance of Washington. Full details are at www.cancer-foundation.org under the button for the conference. There is a discount for registration through September 1.
This conference is sponsored by the Foundation for Cancer Research and Education (FCRE, headed by Dr. Charles "Snufffy" Myers, Jr.), by US TOO (the international prostate cancer education and support group organization), and others.
I have attended the last three of the conferences in this series, which are not presented every year. My first was in Long Beach, CA, about ten months after I was diagnosed. I learned a great deal, much of which I have applied in working with my doctors on my therapy. What I learned also enabled me to help fellow survivors. Highlights in 2000 for me were the value and reliability of ultrasensitive PSA testing, which is only now coming into vogue among many prostate doctors, and enthusiastic news about the success of intermittent triple blockade therapy with Proscar maintenance (my therapy). I also learned about all the other therapies and ways of coping with side effects (or avoiding them). Fellowship with fellow survivors and speaking personally with some of the leading doctors were also unforgettable experiences.
I then attended the 2003 conference in Burbank, CA and got to personally thank four of the doctors who have researched and publicized my therapy, which was then proving highly successful for me. The 2005 conference in Washington, DC was the first on the East Coast, and I served as a volunteer escort and question liaison in the Meet the Speaker aspect of the program. There were many great talks, but I particularly remember Dr. Stephen Strum's talk on good supportive care practices; there are so many things doctors can do to ease our way and make it more effective all along the journey. Yet, many doctors are not aware. If we know what should be done, we can help educate them. I will again be volunteering as an escort and assistant in the Meet the Speaker program at the upcoming 2006 conference.
I have gained valuable information that has helped me personally at each of the conferences. Those of us who attend realize we are getting sound information that is often years ahead of its becoming a part of standard practice. (Just one key example: the importance of bone mineral density testing and use of bisphosphonate drugs to counteract the loss of bone density for those on hormonal blockade.)
Each conference includes a workbook for a small fee. The books feature medical abstracts to support the talks, or vu-graphs of the slides used in the presentations. I have found these most valuable and great places for taking notes on each talk. The conference talks are also recorded, and audio/visual VCR tapes or DVDs are available for a small fee, most containing two or more talks. These are terrific resources for those who cannot attend and for support groups. We have focused several of our support group meetings around these recorded talks.
This year's conference schedule covers all the essentials, but special attention will be on a talk on diet and prostate cancer by the moderator, Dr. Myers, an expert in the subject, and on HIFU, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, an emerging treatment modality. There will also be an exciting update on triple hormonal blockade with Proscar maintenance by Dr. Mark Scholz, an expert in that therapy and lead author of a paper on it published in the May Issue of the Journal of Urology. (Dr. Barken will follow on minimal hormonal therapy and Dr. Myers on second line hormonal therapy.