RICE & MICE: Yo! It’s Movember!

Ah, Movember, how I missed you! As promised, I am featuring this amazing mustache movement that raises money and awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and other cancers that affect men.

Goalies Jonas Hiller and Tim Thomas are not only sporting their own ‘staches for the month, but also Movember Masks which I believe will be auctioned off at the end of the month. Hiller’s mask is awesome, by the way, and I love that it includes all of his teammates in the design. Movember has had the support of NHL players for the past couple of years, and last year around 150 NHL players and their moustaches acted as walking, er skating, billboards to raise awareness for men’s health. Coming off of a very pink, Hockey Fights Cancer October, Movember turns the focus on men.

Movember donates the majority of monies raised to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and Livestrong, The Lance Armstrong Foundation. Livestrong and the PCF in turn use the funds to fuel cancer research and programs that help cancer survivors and their families. Movember was started in 1999 in Melbourne, Australia and has since stretched across the globe.

Prostate cancer affects around one in six men. It’s also something that men seldom talk about. Movember is the perfect platform for calling attention to this health condition. Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in men. One in 36 men will die from prostate cancer. The prostate is a gland that sits just under the bladder of men and surrounds the urethra (the tube that urine passes through). The main function of the prostate is to produce fluid that helps carry sperm out of the body for the purposes of reproduction. Since the urethra passes through the prostate, if the prostate is enlarged, it can make the urethra narrower and cause trouble with urination in men.  Sometimes the enlargement is benign (not harmful) but sometimes it is enlarged because of cancer.

Many times, prostate cancer causes no noticeable symptoms and it is detected in routine screening exams. One of the screening tests is called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level. This test is important if there are symptoms such as: frequent urination, increased urination at night, difficulty starting and/or maintaining a steady stream of urine, blood in the urine and/or painful urination. The PSA should also be monitored in men that have a strong family history of prostate cancer as well as in older men.

A cancer that tends to occur in younger men and is also not often talked about is testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer that is diagnosed in men ages 20-39 years old and can affect men as young as age 15. Thankfully, testicular cancer has the highest cure rates of all cancers (over 90% cure rate) and as long as it is detected early and doesn’t spread, cure rates are very close to 100%. When he was 19 years old, then Boston Bruin, Phil Kessel, was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had surgery to remove the affected testicle. He is still cancer free.

One of the first signs of testicular cancer is swelling, enlargement or a lump in the testicle. This may or may not be painful and there may also be a dull ache or pain in the abdomen. Sometimes there is low back pain or breast enlargement (because of the hormone levels) or a feeling of ‘heavy’ testicles. Some of these symptoms can be cause by an infection, so it’s important that Movember allows a platform for men to talk and learn about these issues.  When these symptoms are present there should be a clinical exam and most likely an ultrasound or other imaging study. Affected testicles are usually removed due to precancerous cells often existing throughout the testicle and chemotherapy or radiation (only for certain types of testicular cancer) may be used. After surgical removal of a testicle, the remaining testicle usually produces sufficient testosterone and usually provides adequate fertility. Less than 5% of testicular cancers will affect both testicles.

So, if you are participating in Movember, kudos to you. If you are not, but would like to help, you can go to us.movember.com (be sure to search for the Anaheim Ducks as they are all participating). If are too late, but want to grow a Mo for future Movembers, here are the general rules. You start with a clean shaven face on the 1st of November. The Mo will be grown for the entire month. Any style of moustache is acceptable; however, it should not join the sideburns or join at the chin.

I think it’s great that so many players, coaches, and staff in the NHL participate in Movember. If you as a fan are participating I first want to say how awesome you are for participating and second as a healthcare professional, I want to say thank you.