It’s been called the grass grin, lip foliage, face fungus and nose neighbor, and it can be grown pencil thin, in the shape of a handlebar or horseshoe, or styled Fu Manchu.
Arnold Kelly doesn’t care what slang word people use to describe the moustache, or what shape men choose to grow them. He just hopes men will grow moustaches and that people will notice them this “Movember.”
While Arnold Kelly has never had prostate or testicular cancer, he nevertheless has decided to do what he can to help change the face of men’s health. He joined the “Movember” campaign hoping to have the opportunity to talk about these cancers with others — and encourage people to donate to the research efforts.
That’s right, “Movember” — a unique, month-long fundraising event promoted globally by the Movember Foundation, one of the world’s largest men’s charities. In Movember, men are encouraged to shave their facial hair and grow their “mo” — Australian slang for moustache — for the month to raise awareness and money for prostate and testicular cancer.
“The motivation behind Movember is to bring much-needed awareness to prostate and testicular cancer and raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation,” says Kelly, a physical therapy attendant and licensed massage therapist in Spain Rehabilitation Center and team leader of Mo Health UAB.
“We work at one of the premier cancer research institutes in the country, and I figured it would be something good to bring awareness to and promote.”
Kelly has never had prostate or testicular cancer, and he doesn’t personally know anyone who has battled either disease.
But Kelly is 43 years old, the age when these diseases typically occur in men. So when Kelly received an e-mail to join the Movember Foundation’s “Movember” campaign, he decided to do what he can to help change the face of men’s health and join the endeavor.
“The idea is people will ask you why you are growing a moustache, and it will give you the opportunity to talk about prostate and testicular cancer and encourage people to donate to the research efforts,” Kelly says. “It would be especially effective for men who don’t typically grow moustaches. It will be a great conversation starter.”
Anyone interested in participating can join Kelly’s team by visiting us.movember.com and registering to join the Mo Health UAB team. Women are encouraged to join as well. “They can recruit other men to join and can collect donations, too,” Kelly says. Contact Kelly at email@example.com or 975-4922 for more information.
The Movember Foundation has raised $47 million to fund prostate cancer research worldwide since its inception in 2003. American men joined the effort in 2007, with 2,000 U.S. participants raising $600,000. Last year 7,000 stateside “mo bros” (and their supporting “mo sistas”) raised $1.1 million, which went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which, along with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, is supporting or has supported UAB research endeavors.
Screenings and research
Testicular cancer is most common in men age 18 to 35, but it is a very treatable disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that 8,400 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed in 2009, with 380 men dying of the disease this year. Men are encouraged to perform a testicular self-examination once a month to facilitate detection at an early stage. Men should look for any small hard lumps or changes in the feel of the testicles.
Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in American men — trailing only skin cancer — and is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men behind lung cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 192,280 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, with 27,360 men dying of the disease.
Prostate cancer screenings are one way to monitor for the disease.
The ACS says that health-care professionals should discuss the potential benefits and limitations of prostate cancer early detection testing with men before any such testing begins. This discussion should include an offer for testing with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50, to men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and have at least a 10-year life expectancy. After such a discussion, those men who favor testing should be tested. Men should actively take part in this decision by learning about prostate cancer and the pros and cons of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.
This discussion should take place starting at age 40 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 70).
“We believe it is very important for men to be screened,” says Erik Busby, M.D., assistant professor of urologic oncology. “There were some recently reported studies that indicated testing may not be prudent, but those studies had some major flaws.
“We do believe that patients need to be educated on the pros and cons of screening prior to embarking down that road. If you have a history of prostate cancer in your family or are African-American, talk to your doctor about screenings.”
Extensive research at UAB is under way in prostate cancer, says Busby.
“In prostate cancer we are looking at different markers to help identify the presence and extent of prostate cancer,” Busby says. “We also are looking at chemo preventive approaches to prevent the disease from occurring. Additionally, we are examining the role of the immune system at preventing development or progression of the disease.”
The Movember Foundation uses the moustache as a way to pull men into the fundraising effort. It’s a lighthearted way for men to learn more about the diseases and the importance of talking to their physicians about them, and to raise money for research.
Busby says men often avoid talking about these diseases or undergoing screenings for prostate cancer out of embarrassment or fear.
“Men often avoid these issues out of denial and not wanting to confront a disease that can cause significant side effects when treated,” he says.
Kelly, who often sports a moustache, says if talking about moustaches means more men will pay attention to their health, Movember will be worth it.
“We’re taught as a young child or a young man to tough it out when we’re hurting and take care of the women and children — to be the man in charge,” Kelly says. “But you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. If more people know it’s OK to talk about these issues with their doctor and realize they need to take care of themselves, fewer people would die from these diseases.”