November 1st kicked-off the annual Movember ritual, where male participants start out clean-shaven and for the entire month, grow a mustache to “change the face of men’s health”. To date, leading global organization, The Movember Foundation, has raised an estimated $559 million and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. This group’s work is both saving and improving the lives of men who are affected by prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health problems.
So, why all the MOVEMBER hype anyways?
Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men—1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Furthermore, it is the second leading cause of cancer related death in American men behind lung cancer.
Who’s at risk?
Below are only a few of the many possible links to why men get prostate cancer. For a complete list, check out the American Cancer Society’s list of risk factors.
- Age: Older men are at a higher risk for getting prostate cancer. While it is rare before age 40, about 6 in 10 cases are diagnosed in men ages 65 and older.
- Race/Ethnicity: African-American men diagnosed with prostate cancer more often than men of other races, while Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men are less likely to be diagnosed than non-Hispanic whites. *Reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are still unclear.
- Family History: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, suggesting an inherited genetic factor. The American Cancer Society says, “…having a brother or father with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing [the] disease.”
When should screenings begin?
Medical societies recommend a screening colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50 for adults without increased risk for colorectal cancer. Research shows that the risk of cancer is low for 10 years if a high-quality colonoscopy does not detect cancer, so tests for this purpose are indicated every ten years.
The ACS recommends that men begin discussing screenings for prostate cancer at the following ages:
- For men who are at average risk of prostate cancer, the recommended age to begin talks about screenings is 50.
- For men who are at high risk of prostate cancer, discussions should begin at age 45.
- For men at an even higher risk— those with one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at a young age—discussions should begin at age 40.
Please note: Based on the individual’s family history and other leading risk factors, these are subject to change. Always consult your doctor when it comes to questions about your health.
In the end, the ACS reports that 25 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive today. As you can see, while prostate cancer is a serious disease, most do not die from it. Regardless, join the Movember movement in support of raising awareness about prostate and testicular cancer. Early detection means early prevention from long-term consequences and recoveries, so help spread the word!