Why Grow A Beard and Raise Funds for Mena��s Cancer Research This Movember?

By Hannah Luu, MD & Laura Bourdeanu, NP, PhD

November has historically been a significant month, as it marks the start of the winter season. However, today, it is widely known as the month of unkempt beards, with numerous a�?mo-brosa�� taking over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels with their wildly awesome facial hair! The concept was alien to a lot of people about a decade ago, but today, there are more than 5 million a�?mo-brosa�� and even a�?mo-sistersa�� from around the world participating in a�?No Shave November.a�?

The origins of the idea can be traced back to a 2003 bar conversation between two friends in Melbourne. Like most great ideas, this one was also conceptualized over a few beers, when Travis Garone and Luke Slattery were discussing how the world was abandoning naturea��s billboards in favor of the more corporate, clean-shaven look.

This led to them designing a challenge where participants couldna��t shave for the entire month of November. While initially there were just 30 a�?mo-brosa��, the movement started gaining rapid traction after the establishment of its official website in 2004. The Movember craze spread out to other countries eventually, raising more than $150million in 2010. All of the proceeds were donated to charities raising awareness for mena��s health, with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia being the most prominent.

There are several confusions regarding Movember and No Shave November, as many tend to interchange the two. The latter was an online campaign started in 2009 which encourages men to not shave, instead donating the money potentially spent on grooming to various charities. It was started by the Hill family of Chicago in honor of their father who had passed away in 2007 due to colon cancer. Whichever movement you honor, both trends have raised a lot of money for cancer awareness in the both of November, particularly cancers that affect men which include:

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in young adults aged 18-32. There are two major types of this cancer; Seminoma and Nonseminos, the latter spreading more rapidly. The good news is that testicular cancer is highly treatable, even at advanced stages.

Screening Recommendations

The most evident cancerous symptom is a painless bump or swelling in one or both of the testicles.A� You can conduct a self examination to determine the presence of a tumor by rolling your scrotum between the index finger and thumb to check for any nodes or lumps. This should be done monthly during or after a bath, when the scrotum is most relaxed.

Your physician should also do a testicular examination during an annual visit. In some cases however, symptoms arena��t evident until the tumor has reached advanced stages. If you have a family history of tumors or are more susceptible to risk factors (family history, undescended testicle, HIV infection), consider getting a monthly evaluation done by a doctor.

Preventative Measures and Treatment

Unfortunately, there are no preventative measures for testicular cancer. In fact, doctors arena��t entirely sure of what causes the cancer, even though certain risk factors such as family history and HIV infections directly increase the probability of its occurrence.

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is located under the bladder and is responsible for two main functions; semen delivery and urine control. Cancer in this region is very hard to identify due to its slow growth, with some patients spending their entire lives without knowing they have it. Thus patient statistics are hard to discern, but estimates suggest at least half of all men above 50 years of age suffer from it.

Screening Recommendations

Screening for prostate cancer are being considered based on the following:

  • Age 50 for those at average risk of developing prostate cancer
  • Age 45 for those at high risk, including African Americans and men with a first-degree relative (father, brother, son) diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65
  • Age 40 for those at higher risk (more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age)

Screening includes a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Screening should be done yearly if the PSA level is 2.5ng/mL or higher, and every two years if the PSA is less than 2.5ng/mL.

Preventative Measures and Treatment

While numerous studies have been done in this area, the causes of prostate cancer are still a mystery. However, most doctors believe that maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regiment can curb its occurrence.A� Your diet should include: low-fat meals, using plant-based fats instead of animal fat, fruits and vegetables with each meal, fish, and low dairy products. You should aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, provided the exercise is approved by your physician.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs in the inner linings of the large intestine, where small non-cancerous cells called polyps accumulate overtime to form a tumor. Tumors can spread to other parts of the body by way of the bloodstream, eventually resulting in more serious untreatable conditions. In fact, it is the third most common cause of cancerous death in America.

Screening Recommendations

Colon cancer screening is recommended starting at age 50, if you are of average risk of developing. The screening tests include:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years

In addition, your physicians may do

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
  • Stool DNA test every 3 years

If you have a higher risk of developing colon cancer, then your colon cancer screening will start before the age of 50 and will be done more often.

Preventative Measures and Treatment

Preventative measures include maintaining a healthy diet and limiting the use of tobacco and alcohol, especially in people with high risk factors, such as those with a family history of the disease.

November is a month to make a real change in the fight against mena��s cancers! Make a commitment to grow a healthy beard and get screened. For more information on these cancers, please visit www.oncogambit.com.