Male cancers and Movember: top five facts
Movember is here! The month for that curious combination of hairy top lips and prostate cancer awareness. Around the world, guys are growing moustaches – not for fashion value, but as a statement to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men, like testicular cancer.
Movember (moustache + November) is a health campaign that started in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand as a fun way to raise awareness and funds on prostate cancer and other male cancers.
A few years later, the idea was copied in Canada and the US, and from there it spread around the world like wildfire. All you have to do to get involved is stop shaving under your nose.
The Movember motto is ‘havin’ fun doin’ good’. The idea is to raise awareness, help guys stay healthy, and make sure they know where to go if they get sick.
There’s a real lack of specialised help for men when it comes to cancer, a British newspaper found in 2001. In the UK for example, for every 3,000 specialized breast cancer nurses, there is only one with a special knowledge of prostate cancer. It takes longer to be able to start treatment, and there are fewer drugs available for male cancers compared to other cancers.
So if you fancy finding out how you look with a moustache, now’s your chance to adjust your shaving habits – and all in a good cause!
Prostate cancer is the main cancer Movember wants to raise awareness about. It mostly affects men over the age of 50, and it is the second most common cancer around the world.
By the age of 80, 80 per cent of all men will have developed prostate cancer. But in almost all of those cases, it’s a slow-growing, almost harmless form, that doesn’t require any treatment. Prostate cancer affects black men more than white or Asian men, though scientists still don’t know why that is.
The first symptoms usually have to do with changes in urination: having to go often, blood in the urine, not being able to empty the bladder completely and having pain and burning feelings while urinating. Painful ejaculation can be another sign. If you have any of those symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.
Testicular cancer and other cancers
Movember isn’t just about prostate cancer though, but also other cancers that affect men. Like cancer of the testicles, which affects mostly young men. Thankfully, it’s also among the forms of cancer that respond best to treatment.
Cancer of the penis is often associated with having AIDS and other diseases. And even poor hygiene and lots of smegma can increase your risks. In some studies, a lower risk of penile cancer has also been linked to circumcision, if it was done shortly after birth.
And, as surprising as this may be to some people, there is also male breast cancer. Yes, men can get breast cancer, too. And it’s often found in late stages only, because men don’t realise that changes in their chest could be cancer. It’s rare though.
Obviously, growing a moustache isn’t going to prevent you getting cancer! But there are a few things you can do to lower your risk. That said, as with most cancers, there is no sure-fire way of making sure that you won’t get it. But living healthily and exercising can lower the risks slightly.
In the case of prostate cancer, some evidence suggests that ejaculating often can lower the risk, though this is not fully proven. Worth a try though – it can’t do any harm!
Checking your body regularly for changes is a good idea. So once a month, you should carefully feel and notice any changes along your chest, testicles and penis. The prostate is more difficult, because it’s located inside the body.
Testing and treatment
If there are changes in your body, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to a doctor about them. They can test you properly and take action if needed. It’s better to go early rather than putting off your visits in the hope that things may change again.
Most cancers are treated in a similar way. Often it’s a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The treatment used and how successful it is depends mostly on how advanced the cancer is.
So to keep well, live healthy, regularly check your body for changes and see a doctor as soon as you find something unusual. And show you’re in the know by growing some facial hair this November!
Do you have a story or a moustache to share? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.