While October is full of pink ribbons, survivors’ walks and “save the boobies” bracelets for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many people don’t know that November is Prostate and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the Movember Foundation, a multinational charity that raises awareness of and support for men’s health, 45 men die every hour in the U.S. from either prostate or testicular cancer.
A prostate is a gland that only men have that is about the size and shape of a walnut and grows larger as men get older. The gland surrounds the urethra under the bladder, and its job is to help make semen.
Prostate cancer cells are produced when cells reproduce at a much faster rate than normal, causing the formation of a tumor. Some symptoms of the early stages of prostate cancer include constant pain in the lower back area, hips, or thighs, painful or burning urination, a need to urinate frequently, and blood found in urine or ejaculation.
Prostate tumors can form and have little to no effect on a man for years before they cause serious pain or problems around the gland.
If the cancerous cells aren’t causing pain or symptoms, they can spread to other areas of the body like bones or the lymph nodes and become fatal. This is why it is important for men to get yearly prostate exams starting at the age of 45.
According to cancer.net, 23 percent of men who don’t detect or treat tumors of the prostate during the early stages of production won’t live five years past diagnosis, while men who do treat the problem early have a 98 percent chance of living past the five year mark.
WCC student Ian Jenss, 55, was shocked when learning these facts.
“I didn’t know any of those statistics, and I don’t think I’ve ever been checked, but now I definitely want to get that done,” he said.
In the United States, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men ages 15 to 35. The most common symptoms will show up as small tumors or growths, known as germ cell tumors, that develop on one or both testes.
Knowing your body is the best way to catch testicular cancer early. It’s an uncomfortable subject, but checking for change in shape, size, or anything new is worth a visit to your doctor.
Men who were born with undescended testicals or men who have realtives that have had testicular cancer are at a heightened risk of developing testicular cancer.
To raise awareness of both cancers and the ways men can take action early to live longer, the Movember Foundation maintains the ever-popular “No-Shave November.”
This movement encourages men who would usually shave every day to take the month to grow out their hair, which then prompts questions like “Why are you letting it grow out?” and “How come you stopped shaving?” from friends and family. This then leads the men to bring up men’s health and how one can help by donating to a local charity that supports medical research against these cancers.
WCC student Wendell Ebesu, 20, said he knew about No-Shave November but didn’t know the reason behind it.
“I didn’t know that it was for raising awareness for any type of cancer,” Ebesu said. “That’s crazy that people have been participating in it and not even knowing what it’s about.”
The mustache and beard is the campaign ribbon, though the actual ribbon for prostate cancer is blue and for testicular cancer is purple.
More information on men’s health and the projects that the Movember Foundation contributes to can be found on the foundation’s website at us.movember.com.
So, take the time this November to grow your facial hair, wear your blue and purple ribbons, donate to a foundation or charity that supports the fight against these cancers, and let the men in your life know how a yearly exam could give them a few extra years of life down the road.
by Hannah Bailey, Ka‘Ohana Staff Reporter