Movember is the incredible global movement that began in Australia in 2003. During the month of November, many brave individuals – in helping to change the face of men’s health – grow a moustache to show support and bring focus onto issues that are not often talked about within the male sphere, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. The movement now has the support of over 5 million people around the world. In honour of Movember, we take a look at the hard facts, the signs and the importance of getting checked.
Movember originally started out as a fun way of raising money for prostate cancer. Since it started 16 years ago, however, it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon and has shifted focus from male cancer onto men’s health in general. This is no surprise, considering the prominent issue of mental health – which affects both men and women.
What is perhaps more shocking is that, across the world, men die an average six years younger than women for reasons that are largely preventable. This places huge significance on the importance of raising awareness of the different issues affecting men’s health – and in highlighting the ways we can all take action to help combat them.
Know the facts
In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. According to the charity Movember, there are over 333,500 men living with and beyond the disease across the country. Sadly, 1 in 6 UK males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Prostate cancer develops when cells in the prostate (a walnut-sized gland that sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra) start to grow in an uncontrolled way. While it is one of the most common types of cancer in men, prostate cancer is also highly treatable when caught in the early stages. It is, therefore, incredibly important to know your risk factors and how to spot the symptoms early on.
Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer that causes a usually painless swelling or lump in one of the two testicles. It is, however, the most common type of cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 49. Around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK every year.
… the same goes for your mental health
When it comes to mental health, it is just as important to know how to spot the signs and when to take action. Yet, mental health is something that many men choose not to talk about.
Around the world, however, the rate of male suicide is distressingly high: 6 out of 10 suicides are men. In the UK, 75% of suicides are men – it remains the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
They key in helping to combat this is to make it more comfortable for men to discuss their problems and encouraging conversations on mental health from a young age – especially as statistics show 75% of mental illness (excluding dementia) starts before the age of 18.
Learn to spot the signs
Learning how to spot the signs of cancer early on can help save lives. Learning about developing symptoms and warning signs can also do the same for your mental health.
While urinary problems can be an indication of prostate cancer, for example, we don’t often pair mental health issues with physical pain, but mental health can manifest itself in different ways. Fatigue, for example, is a common physical symptom of depression, causing concentration problems, apathy and irritability.
Other symptoms can include dramatic sleep and appetite changes, nervousness and feelings of disconnect from yourself and your surroundings.
While symptoms may not always be a sign of a severe condition, whether mental or physical, health exams and tests can help to find problems early on, helping you to live a longer and healthier life.
According to Cancer Research UK, for example, survival depends largely on early intervention when it comes to prostate cancer and testicular cancer (one of the most treatable types of cancer) – rising to above 98% when caught early.
Know your risk factors
Of course, the symptoms of diseases such as prostate cancer are not usually obvious, which is why it is also important to know understand your risk factors.
Prostate cancer, for example, mainly affects men over the age of 50, but you can still get it at any age. The most common age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. Additionally, the risk is higher for black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer.
You are also two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it – and your risk can also increase if your mother or sister has had breast cancer.
Arranging to see a doctor who can review your risk factors is a simple step you can take to help quell any concerns and anxieties you may have about your health and to understand any treatment paths available to you.
The importance of reaching out
Movember has proven highly popular because it is a fun way to help raise awareness of serious issues that are not always given the attention they need. It helps to shed light on the importance of taking action; of breaking the stigma that still remains behind mental health; and the importance of talking, listening and supporting others.
While we don’t often associate mental health with physical symptoms, the symptoms of diseases such as prostate cancer are also not always obvious. The important thing is to know what signs to look out – and more importantly, when to reach out for help, whether from a friend, family member or a doctor.
Our special ‘Movember’ offer
At Doctorcall, we offer private GP consultations and peace of mind health screenings at our private clinics on Harley Street in London and in Manchester.
During the month of November, we’ll be offering a special 20% reduction on the price of any Well-Man Screen – our general health screening ‘MOT’ – for any appointments that are booked online with us. Simply use the code ‘movember’ at checkout to take advantage of our special offer.
If you would prefer to be seen in the comfort of your own surroundings, you can arrange for one of our doctors to come and see you instead – at a time and place that suits you. Our visiting doctor service is available 24/7 throughout London and can provide the comfort and discretion you need to discuss any health worries that you might have or any difficulties you’re experiencing.
There are often no symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer, and screening can help catch the cancer early on, when treatment is most effective.
If you are experiencing any problems or anxieties about your health, don’t let it pass under the radar. Whether mental or physical, the key to a happy, healthy life lies in early intervention and support.