Movember: More than a moustache-growing contest

Courtney Rupertus

Each year in November since 2003, men have been going unshaven in the upper lip area for 30 days to raise awareness and funds for male cancers.

The Movember Foundation has grown exponentially from just 30 moustaches to five million ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’.

The movement has always been about more than just growing a sweet ‘stache. Instead, it’s about generating awareness and educating men and their families about prostate cancer, testicular cancer, as well as men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Their goal has been to disrupt the status quo and break the deadly silence that typically surrounds these health issues that affect men, and so far they have raised $769 million and started over 1200 men’s health initiatives. Now, their goal is to decrease the number of men dying prematurely by 25% come 2030.

Both men and women can join the Movember movement to ensure we support the men in the world to live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Besides growing a moustache, you can Move for Movember and set a distance goal for walking, running, hiking swimming - whatever - and raise funds along the way!

Raising awareness is becoming increasingly important because too many men don’t talk about it, too many don’t take action, and unfortunately, too many die prematurely. You can help by encouraging and supporting the men in your life to do regular self-exams (70% of men never have given themselves a self-exam), and talk to their doctors about regular screening as well as getting any symptoms or changes checked out along the way.

Talking, listening, and reaching out is crucial. Their website states that “70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends. In other words: we’re here for our friends, but worried about asking for help for ourselves.”

For both prostate and testicular cancer, early detection is key, and the difference between early and late detection could be life or death. Prostate cancer especially is a silent and slow-growing cancer, as many men don’t even experience symptoms at all.

Early Detection of Prostate Cancer

Know the numbers: When you’re 50, you need to talk to your doctor about PSA testing. If you are of African or Caribbean descent or you have a family history of prostate cancer, do it at age 45.

Not all men experience symptoms, but some do. If you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms listed below, go see your doctor:

A need to urinate frequently, especially at night

Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine

Weak or interrupted flow of urine

Painful or burning urination

Difficulty in having an erection

Painful ejaculation

Blood in urine or semen

Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Early Detection of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer for males between the ages of 15 and 29. While the outcome for men diagnosed is typically positive (a 95% chance of survival after five years), there is still one man in 20 who will not make it. Taking action as early as possible is key.

The simplest way to detect it early is to “know thy nuts”. Just as regular self-exams in between screenings are essential for women, so are regular self-exams for men.

Here’s how:

Take a warm shower.

Roll one testicle between your thumb and fingers, and get to know what’s normal.

Repeat on the other one.

If you notice a change or a lump, go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Go to movember.com to learn more about prevention, early detection, and what you can do to join the Movember challenge.