Men are dying needlessly young and for largely preventable reasons. In the hope of helping them to live happier, healthier, longer lives, many organisations have emerged with a focus on men’s health and well-being. Movember is one such organisation.
Movember was born in 2003 and over the past 19 years has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world . The charity’s core goal is to raise awareness of premature death among men – addressing diseases such as prostate and testicular cancer, mental health issues and suicide . This article explores these key threats to men’s health and highlights how individuals can support Movember’s mission.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. If left untreated, prostate cancer can threaten not only a man’s fertility but also his life; however, if the disease is detected early the chances of surviving beyond 5 years increase dramatically (98% if detected early compared with 26% if detected late) . Prostate cancer is more common in men over 50 but can also be hereditary; men with a family history of prostate cancer are 2–3 times more likely to develop the condition than men with no family history of the disease . It is highly prevalent in black men, making age and race additional risk factors [1, 3]. Although symptoms are not always present (especially during early stages of the disease), they can include the following: trouble starting urination, weak or interrupted flow of urine, frequent urination, trouble completely emptying the bladder, and persistent pain in the back, hips or pelvis . These symptoms can all be caused by other health problems, but it is important to discuss these symptoms with a GP as soon as possible and get the correct treatment.
Trans women and non-binary people assigned male at birth can get prostate cancer. It is important to know your risk and get have the necessary medical check-ups.
Testicular cancer is not as common as other forms of cancer; however, it is the most common type of cancer in men aged 15–49 years . Like prostate cancer, testicular cancer has a particularly devastating effect on male reproduction because of the key role that the testicles have in fertility . A fundamental sign of testicular cancer is the development of painless swellings or lumps in the testicles . Other symptoms can include an increasingly firm testicle, a disparity in size between the two testicles, localised aches and pains, and a feeling of increased weight in the scrotum . Approximately 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK, a number which, for unknown reasons, is increasing. Globally, more than 70,000 new cases of testicular cancer per year [1, 5].
Mental health and suicide prevention
In addition to their immediate effects on sexual reproduction, prostate and testicular cancer can also have a lasting impact on mental health . Mental health issues are a huge area for concern among men as suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 35 years.[ 6] In the UK, males account for 75% of suicides, and globally one man commits suicide every minute . Many men often find it difficult to discuss their mental health because of the stereotypical definitions of masculinity, which hinders diagnosis and treatment. Organisations such as Movember have been established to encourage men to open up about their issues and provide support. The Movember website also includes useful tips on how to talk to people if you are concerned about their mental health, visit: https://conversations.movember.com/en-gb/ALEC/
How you can help to raise awareness
Simply share the information in this article to raise awareness within your friends, colleagues and loved ones. Or participate in one of the Movember activities listed below:
Grow a Mo: One of the main ways to raise awareness of men’s health is by growing a moustache (a ‘mo’) throughout November . Not only can this encourage donations, but it can also raise awareness simply through conversation . Since 2003, 5 million people have participated in this activity .
Move: An alternative to growing a moustache, the ‘Make A Move’ campaign asks participants to run or walk 60 kilometres over the month of November – 1 kilometre for each man lost to suicide every minute .
Host a Mo-ment: A third option involves meeting up with friends and taking part in a social activity with the aim of raising funds for Movember .
Mo Your Own Way and choose a gruelling activity or daring adventure to raise funds.
There is a lot more work to be done to raise awareness, provide information and encourage men to seek the help they need to reduce the impact of prostate cancer, testicular cancer and poor mental health. For more information on Movember, or to find support for yourself or a loved one, please visit: https://uk.movember.com/
- Movember. Men’s Health: Quality of life. Available at: https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/quality-of-life. Accessed November 2022.
- Verze P, Cai T and Lorenzetti S. The role of the prostate in male fertility, health and disease. Nat Rev Urol 2016; 13 (7): 379–386. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303742057_The_role_of_the_prostate_in_male_fertility_health_and_disease
- TrueNTH: A Movember initiative. Available at: https://us.truenth.org/?_ga=2.163734591.1845075158.1573560102-1785871360.1573560102.Accessed November 2022
- Prostate Cancer UK. https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/are-you-at-risk/trans-women-and-prostate-cancer
- National Health Service. Testicular cancer: Overview. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/testicular-cancer/. Accessed November 2019.
- Mind.org.uk. get-it-off-your-chest_a4_final.pdf (mind.org.uk). Accessed November 2022