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Movember 2016: raising awareness of health problems affecting men

Posted: 04/11/2016

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. Known as “Movember”, it is a time when people worldwide raise awareness of health issues that affect men. The Movember Foundation is tackling men’s health on a global scale and addressing some of the biggest concerns faced by men including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

According to the Movember Foundation:

  • prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years;
  • testicular cancer rates have already doubled during the last 50 years;
  • three quarters of suicides are men;
  • poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year. 

Movember was established in 2003 by a few friends in a pub just outside Melbourne, Australia. Their goal was to create a campaign promoting the growth of the moustache in order to heighten awareness of health issues that affect men. Movember now spans globally, with campaigns in over 20 countries. The Movember Foundation has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects, in the UK and around the world.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. The number of cases is on the rise and by 2030 there will be 1.7 million men living with prostate cancer. It is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, and those who survive face serious side effects.

The Movember Foundation is focused on early detection through to diagnosis, treatment, and support; it is not just looking for a cure.

Prostate cancer that is contained inside the prostate doesn’t usually cause any symptoms although some men might have urinary problems. These can be mild and happen over many years and may be a sign of a benign prostate problem, rather than prostate cancer.

Changes to look out for include:

  • needing to urinate more often than usual, including at night
  • difficulty starting to urinate
  • straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that you’re not emptying your bladder fully
  • needing to rush to the toilet – sometimes leaking before you get there
  • dribbling urine after you finish 

For some men the first symptoms of prostate cancer might be pain in the back, hips or pelvis, which can be a sign of the disease spreading. These symptoms are often caused by other problems such as general aches or arthritis. The recommendation is always to see your doctor to discuss your concerns. 

Testicular cancer

In the majority of cases, the outcome for men with testicular cancer is positive, with a 95% chance of survival. Testicular cancer usually affects men between 15 and 40 years old. The most common symptom is a lump or swelling in one of the testicles. This can be about the size of a pea, but may be larger.

Associated symptoms

Testicular cancer can also cause other symptoms, including:

  • a dull ache or sharp pain in the testicles or scrotum, which may come and go
  • a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • a change in the texture or increase in firmness of a testicle
  • a difference between one testicle and the other

Research has shown that less than 4% of scrotal lumps or swellings are cancerous. For example, varicoceles (swollen blood vessels) and epididymal cysts (cysts in the tubes around the testicle) are common causes of testicular lumps. 

Metastatic cancer

If testicular cancer has spread to other parts of your body, you may also experience other symptoms. Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is known as metastatic cancer. Around 5% of people with testicular cancer will experience symptoms of metastatic cancer.

The most common place for testicular cancer to spread is to the nearby lymph nodes in the abdomen or lungs. Lymph nodes are glands that make up the immune system. Less commonly, the cancer can spread to the liver, brain or bones. 

Symptoms of metastatic testicular cancer can include:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing or spitting up blood 
  • shortness of breath 
  • swelling and enlargement of male breasts
  • a lump or swelling in the neck
  • lower back pain 

Mental health

Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men. Around the world, on average we lose a man to suicide every minute of every day. Three out of four suicides are men.

The causes of suicide are complex. There is no single reason why men take their own lives. The Movember Foundation believes that by improving overall mental health, it can reduce the risk of suicide.

Rebecca Morgan, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, comments: “We wholeheartedly support Movember’s awareness campaign. Sadly, we deal with many cases involving delayed diagnosis of cancer and therefore recognise the importance of increasing awareness of cancer and raising funds for research into not only fighting the disease, but also improving the lives of those who require support after treatment, including psychological support.

“Many of our clients have suffered significant psychological injury, as well as physical injury, as a result of negligent treatment. We know how vital it is for those affected to receive appropriately targeted and specialist psychological therapy. Campaigns such as Movember therefore assist in creating a wider awareness of mental health among the general public and we hope this will encourage those suffering with mental health issues to seek help and assistance.”

For more information on how to get involved in Movember, visit the Movember Foundation website at

If you, a member of your family or a friend have any concerns regarding men’s health issues, our specialist oncology team  may be able to assist.

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