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November means Movember

November means Movember

In 2003, two Australian men created Movember, with the goal of raising funds and awareness of men’s health issues by growing mustaches during the month of November. Almost 20 years later, the organization touts more than 6 million “mo bros” and “mo sisters” whose fundraising has supported more than 1,200 men’s health projects worldwide.

By growing a mustache, men contribute to raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, as well as depression among men – because who doesn’t notice a man with a mustache? When asked about their ‘stache, participants can then tell others about the health risks that men face and the Movember Foundation’s work to address them.

One participant is our prostate cancer expert, Dr. Jonathan Chen. When he joined SCCA in 2019, he decided to participate in Movember and grow his first mustache.

“My facial hair is very scraggly. Someone would definitely notice my attempt to grow a mustache,” Dr. Chen says. “I do it to show solidarity with my patients and raise awareness of prostate cancer and other health issues among men.”

Dr. Chen treats prostate cancer, but also other cancers such as bladder, testicular, and ocular. He appreciates the nuances in dealing with different patient populations. “Men can have this stereotype of being stoic and avoiding the doctor. I think that’s why it’s especially important to promote awareness and conversation about health issues that specifically affect them,” he says.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, after non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the CDC. It is one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races, which is why efforts from organizations such as Movember are critical to help drive awareness and expand research into prostate cancer treatments and diagnosis tools. 

As with many kinds of cancer, studies support that living a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise could reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends all men, particularly those over the age of 50, should speak to their doctor about the pros and cons of PSA screening. It may also be worth getting genetic testing if cancer runs in your family,” says Dr. Chen. Though less common now with more PSA screening, urinary symptoms, such as more frequent visits to the bathroom, can also be an indicator of prostate cancer and should be brought to the attention of your doctor.

Dr. Chen is currently leading two clinical trials for prostate cancer patients at SCCA. The COMPPARE trial is looking at long-term outcomes between patients treated with proton therapy and photon (or conventional) radiation therapy. This is a non-randomized trial, which means men can choose which option they prefer.

The second trial, INDICATE, is designed for patients who have had a prostatectomy and whose cancer has recurred but has not spread beyond the pelvis. It uses next-generation PET scans to guide optimal treatment, potentially including metastasis-directed therapy. Speak to your radiation oncologist to see if you are eligible to participate in either of these trials.