Dr. Jed Diamond encourages us to push the values of Movember into the other 11 months of the year.
I first learned about Movember four years ago when I was invited to speak at a number of men’s health conferences in Australia and New Zealand. I met some of the men who had started the Movember movement in Melbourne. It started with 30 guys in 2003 and remained small for a number of years, but began to pick up steam by the time we visited, and now has more than 1,000,000 members in countries all over the world.
Movember is the month formerly known as November, where men and women across the globe join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. Men grow (and women support) a Mo (moustache) for 30 days by becoming walking, talking billboards. Movember supports world-class men’s health programs that combat prostate and testicular cancer and addresses other men’s health issues.
Given the importance of men’s health, perhaps we could have Movember be a part of every month of the year? Movember in January. Movember in February. Let’s make men’s health a year-round focus.
Most of us are aware that men die sooner and live sicker than women. We suffer more from everything from prostate problems to suicide. From Movember’s perspective the reasons for the poor state of men’s health include:
- Lack of awareness and understanding about the health issues men face
- Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
- Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well
- Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health
- Stigmas surrounding both physical and mental health
Movember takes a light-hearted approach to men’s health, but recognizes the statistics that show the current crisis:
- Over 6 million men are diagnosed with depression each year.
- 2 to 17 times as many males as females die by suicide (depending on age).
- 1 in 2 men, and 1 in 3 women, will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
- 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
- Over 238,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed and almost 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer in 2013.
My Prostate Cancer Coach Offers Information and Support That Saves Lives
My Prostate Cancer Coach was created by Genomic Health, with support from the non-profit advocacy groups Men’s Health Network and the Prostate Cancer Foundation to help men better understand prostate cancer and the tests available to diagnose it. It also helps men already diagnosed with prostate cancer to better understand their potential course of care, and highlight specific questions that they may wish to discuss with their healthcare team.
Most of us know about the PSA test for detecting prostate cancer, but don’t fully understand how it works. My Prostate Cancer Coach offers scientifically sound and straightforward information.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein that is normally made by the prostate gland. Since PSA levels tend to be higher in men with prostate cancer, PSA blood tests are often performed in healthy men to screen for the potential presence of prostate cancer, before there is any outward evidence of disease. There are several types of PSA tests, with some measuring absolute PSA levels and others measuring changes in PSA over time.
PSA alone cannot diagnose prostate cancer. Because other conditions in the prostate like BPH, age-related enlargement, infection, and inflammation can also raise PSA levels, there is currently controversy about who should be screened for PSA. Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to undergo PSA testing should be made by each individual in consultation with his doctor.
Many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer because of an elevated PSA level may have early-stage prostate cancer that will not progress in the near future. Such men may be able to avoid immediate treatment and be candidates for strict, regular monitoring of their cancer through an Active surveillance program. Genomic tests, like the Oncotype DX®1 prostate cancer test, may provide clarity to men with early-stage prostate cancer as to their individual risk so that they can make informed treatment decisions with their doctors.
No one likes to think about cancer, but it’s a lot better than waiting until you get it. No one likes to get a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE), but it’s better than putting it off until a cancer grows and spreads. There are things we can do to prevent cancer and early detection gives us options. Most men I know want to teach their kids to have courage. Well, having courage means learning all you can about prostate health.
I recently wrote an article called Why I’m More Afraid of My Annual PSA Test Than the Digital Rectal Examination. What I say may surprise you, but it is sure to enlighten you. Let me know what you think and what you are doing in support of men’s health.
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