Men’s Health Worth Discussing

You may have noticed a new fashion statement dawning on the faces of men in November. Love it or hate it, the moustache fad is definitely back. Some guys rock the ‘stache to express their personal style, while others are simply celebrating their new-found ability to grow this manly accessory on their upper lip.  If you see a guy with a moustache during the month of November, however, I recommend that you stop and ask him about it. His moustache may represent something much more than a fun fashion accessory.

In November, millions of men around the world sprouted moustaches to support the “Movember” movement. “Mo Bros,” as they are called, groom and trim their fine moustaches during the month of November while raising money for the Movember Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health issues, particularly cancers that affect men, such as prostate and testicular cancers.

Moustaches have an odd way of getting men talking to each other and forming a sense of community.  When is the last time you saw a moustached college guy out and didn’t stop to make a comment? As light and silly as the conversation may begin, Movember’s goal is to open the door for a serious discussion about the health issues that men often face but rarely feel comfortable talking about.Studies have shown that when compared to women, men are less likely to openly talk about their health problems and less likely to go to the doctor when they suspect there is something wrong. Think about it, men have a shorter life expectancy than women and sometimes do not discover curable, preventable health problems until the late stages of the disease.

I’m sure most guys are probably sitting comfortably on campus reading this article and wondering why a young and healthy college guy has any health issues to be concerned about. Cancers, however, affect men at any age, and the most common cancer for men between the ages of 15 and 34 is testicular cancer.

Testicular cancers are often found by men themselves and can appear as a painless lump, an enlargement of a testicle or a sense of heaviness or pain in the scrotum.

Testicular cancer is relatively rare. There are 7,500 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States yearly and approximately 350 deaths per year.  Though rare, testicular cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of men in their 20s and 30s. There are several risk factors for developing testicular cancer including younger age, a family history of testicular cancer and a history of an undescended testicle. The cancer is also most common in white men.

Made infamous by afflicting athletes such as Lance Armstrong, testicular cancer is highly curable if it is caught early. But here lies the problem: It must be caught early. It’s important to be aware of the risks and signs of testicular cancer so you can seek medical help early if you think something may be wrong.

The National Cancer Institute recommends that men perform a self testicular exam once a month, preferably after a warm bath or shower. Here’s how to do it:

1. Stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling or changes in the scrotum skin.

2. Examine each testicle separately by holding the scrotum in the palm of one hand and using the other hand to gently roll the testicle between the thumbs and forefinger to feel for any lumps or abnormalities.

3. Locate the epididymis, a cordlike structure that extends behind the testicles and transports sperm. It is shaped like a comma and feels soft. It’s important to identify this structure so you don’t mistake it for a tumor.

If you find anything out of the ordinary, see a doctor right away. The abnormality may not be cancer, but only your doctor can decide.

For more information about men’s health and the Movember Foundation, visit or my website

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