If there was ever a century that required society to pay closer attention to protecting its health, it is definitely the 21st century. Fortunately, initiatives have erupted in all corners of the world aiming to achieve this once lofty goal.
Once a year, a very interesting campaign hits the global streets asking men all over the world to reject their razors for one month as a show of support of a good cause -their own health.
The Global Journal in 2012 listed Movember as one of the world’s Top 100 Non-Govermental Organisations. It’s easy to see why. The Movember movement ignited into a globally recognised initiative supported by millions, requiring men to grow moustaches during November to raise awareness and early detection of issues affecting men’s health. Awareness around prostate cancer, testicular cancer, depression spread to other countries, resulting in a global movement that has, as the foundation intended ‘changed the face of men’s health’
So, why should you care or get involved?
A view on Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland is an organ unique only to men, sitting underneath the bladder around the urethra (the outlet used to urinate and ejaculate). Its core function is producing semen. It is normally the size of a walnut, gradually growing bigger as men get older. When prostate cells start to grow rapidly, the risk of a tumour increases, which may result in prostate cancer. In South Africa, prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men across all populations, making it a significant condition to highlight year-on-year. The lifetime risk of prostate cancer globally is one in ten men.
Symptoms indicating the presence of prostate cancer versus other urinary conditions often do not present until it is in a late stage, mainly due to the fact that prostate tumours are slow growing. This is one of the reasons why men are encouraged to see a doctor for a routine medical evaluation, where specific signs may be detected early during physical examination (prostate examination) or laboratory tests (PSA).
The most commonly reported symptoms associated with the disease includes: frequent and increased urination (esp night-time), a decline in sexual function and performance, painful ejaculation, difficult in initiating urination, interrupted flow of urine, lower back pain, blood in urine (haematuria) or semen. Diagnosis is performed by qualified health professionals (GP, Urologists) through a series of investigations, with a wide variety of treatment options available to those confirmed to have prostate cancer. Just like with every other cancer out there, early detection is the best deterrent to complications, a reason important enough to mobilise men towards healthier seeking behaviour. By encouraging men to get involved in events like Movember, one can hope to improve society’s understanding of the disease, the benefit of early cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, with the goal of creating an empowering health environment that reduces the number of lives lost to such preventable cancers.
A quick word on the Testes (Testicular Cancer)
Testicles are responsible for the production of male hormones such as testosterone, as well as sperm. Although not much attention is paid to this other type of cancer, it is not any less important than prostate cancer. Testicular cancer commonly affects younger males aged between 15 and 39. Risk factors which increase the risk of this type of cancer typically includes: men who have a history of an undescended testes at birth, previous or family history of testicular cancer and the presence of HIV infection. This cancer is often missed due to men not understanding the benefit of techniques such as the testicular self-examination (TSE). This skill can be learned by every man to appropriately detect any unusual lumps, pain or changes in their testicles. Testicular cancer commonly presents as an abnormal growth in one or both testicles. Treatment options are guided by the type of tumour cells, the size, it’s severity, the spread of the cancer and the health risks of the individual affected.
Whilst cancers are never an easy subject to have when sharing a pint of beer in the pub, helping societies understand how to deal with them decisively is science’s collective wish. It is because of this mission that movements like Movember remain incredibly powerful. Highlighting the value of both preventative and curative roadmaps to conditions we would otherwise choose to ignore and simultaneously, hope to never get. Sadly, not everyone can escape cancer, making the conversation around healthier lifestyles and increased self-awareness an ongoing one. It can, and does, save lives.
The universal call to all men to learn more about their health is one worth commending.
Wishing you all a Happy Healthy Movember.