According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease and cancer are men’s leading causes of death.1 Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with more than 1.4 million new cases reported in 2020 alone.2 This alarming data is why there is the Movember movement for men’s health.
Each November, the most extensive philanthropic campaign for men’s health is celebrated by a charity known as Movember.3 The campaign name stems from “Mo”, an Australian slang term for the word moustache.4 The organization was founded in Australia in 2003, but the no-shave November movement has spread worldwide due to social media.3
Movember’s mission is to spread information about men’s health issues like prostate cancer and to raise donations for research initiatives relating to men’s health.4 The awareness and fundraising are partly done through the no-shave November initiative.3
During November, men grow out their facial hair, specifically the moustache.3 Men begin the month with a clean-shaven look and refrain from shaving their moustaches throughout November.5 The moustache is a talking point for men’s health to spark conversations about men’s health issues, with our focus here being prostate cancer.4,5
Differences in prostate cancer management
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, France, Ireland, and Barbados had the highest rates of prostate cancer in 2020.2 However, the highest rates of death due to prostate cancer were in Zimbabwe, Barbados, and Haiti.2
The disconnect between the number of men diagnosed versus those who lost their lives to prostate cancer may be attributed to differences in detection and management.6 Prostate cancer screening, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment may vary across countries.6 Research suggests that these methodologies may vary within a country as well.6
Movember’s investment in research for men’s health
In 2017, Movember initiated the Prostate Cancer Landscape Analysis to understand more about men’s experiences with prostate cancer and learn about the gaps in prostate cancer research from global experts.6
Since then, Movember has funded various biomedical and clinical research efforts for men’s health and, more specifically, prostate cancer.6 The charity’s mission is to halve the number of deaths from prostate cancer and the number of men experiencing severe adverse events due to treatment by 2030.6
How does prostate cancer impact men?
For the Prostate Cancer Landscape Analysis, nine men with prostate cancer shared their personal experiences through in-depth interviews.6 Topics discussed included the support received during their care and awareness of available clinical trials for new prostate cancer treatments.5
Men also expressed the importance of connecting with other men living with prostate cancer diagnoses.6 Prostate cancer was determined to significantly impact the quality of men’s physical and mental well-being.6 Furthermore, the interviewed men suggested the following ideas to advance the current understanding of prostate cancer and improve diagnosis management:
- Make high-quality information on prostate cancer readily available to the general public.6
- Implement measures to reduce racial, socioeconomic, regional, and other biases that may impact a person’s access to prostate cancer treatment.6
The future of prostate cancer research
The Movember Prostate Cancer Landscape Analysis involves global leaders in prostate cancer.6 A total of 44 experts from the different sectors of the health industry provide expert opinions and knowledge-sharing.6 According to these global leaders of men’s health, the following should be areas of focus for future research efforts:
- Develop more sensitive and specific tests to diagnose prostate cancer and its severity accurately.5 This may lead to implementing a standard response within and across countries to screen patients.6 Moreover, a cancer trial in 2012 showed that regular screening might lead to an overdiagnosis of cancer due to the discovery of tumours that would not have caused any symptoms.7
- After diagnosing patients with prostate cancer, the development of indicators to determine if active surveillance – which refers to carefully monitoring disease status – or treatment is the best course of action.6 Active surveillance may be the better option for low-risk and localized prostate cancer. However, more aggressive forms would require treatment.6,7
- Physicians also support the idea and suggest that instead of eliminating regular prostate cancer screenings. Physicians should manage men’s treatments based on cancer severity and risk.7
Prostate cancer is a health concern worth prioritizing during Movember as it is the second leading cause of death in males worldwide. Given that we are currently in the month of no-shave November, this is the ideal time to reflect on the research advancements being made to improve men’s health and take a moment to spread awareness. Please consult your healthcare provider for more information on prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading causes of death. Accessed at: https://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/lcod/men/2018/all-races-origins/index.htm
- World Cancer Research Fund International. Prostate cancer statistics. Accessed at: https://www.wcrf.org/cancer-trends/prostate-cancer-statistics/
- Van der Linden, S. The nature of viral altruism and how to make it stick. Nat Hum Behav. 2017;1(2).
- Men are dying too young. We can’t afford to stay silent. Movember. https://ca.movember.com/about/foundation. Published 2022.
- Jacobson J, Mascaro C. Movember: Twitter conversations of a hairy social movement. Soc Med Soc. 2016;2(2).
- Kouspou MM, Fong JE, Brew N, Hsiao STF, Davidson SL, Choyke PL, Crispino T, Jain S, Jenster GW, Knudsen BS, Millar JL, Mittmann N, Ryan CJ, Tombal B, Buzza M. The Movember prostate cancer landscape analysis: An assessment of unmet research needs. Nat Rev Urol. 2020:17;499-712.
- Long-term trial results show no mortality benefit from annual prostate cancer screening. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/research/screening-psa-dre. Published February 17, 2012.