It's that time of year again – the time for beards and Top Gun-like mustaches on the faces of men of all ages. However, you might not know that "No-Shave November" is far more than a fashion choice: It's a way to raise awareness about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide.
While we often joke that men "don't go to the doctor," it's true. A 2022 survey found that 55% of men don't get regular health screenings and 72% would rather do chores than see their provider.
Maybe they're uncomfortable talking about their bodies, fear getting bad news or feel societal pressure to "be tough." But nothing is more manly than dudes of all ages taking charge of their well-being – especially because three conditions greatly affect men.
Prostate cancer develops in the walnut-sized organ in the male reproductive system. It is the second leading cancer-related death among men, but early detection can greatly improve survival rates. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 288,000 new cases of prostate cancer in 2023 and 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
Men should consider screening starting at age 50, but those with higher risk factors may be advised to begin at age 45. They also should consult a healthcare professional if they experience frequent urination, pain during urination or blood in their urine or semen.
Testicular cancer is when abnormal cells grow in the testicles. It is not common, only occurring in about 1 of every 250 males, and it most often occurs in men between the ages of 15 and 45. The symptoms are usually a lump or bump on one of the testicles.
It is important for men to be aware of their bodies and perform regular self-exams to detect any changes. Testicular cancer is highly treatable – the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%, but early detection is paramount.
In 2021, more than 48,000 Americans died by suicide – and nearly 78% of those were men. In fact, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. That's why it's more important than ever to start conversations with the men in your life about seeking help and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. Some signs a man may need help include mood swings, withdrawal from social interaction, increased irritability or anger, changes in sleep patterns and feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
It is crucial to approach the conversation with empathy, understanding and a nonjudgmental attitude. We love the men in our lives – our fathers, brothers, partners and friends. So, we must encourage them to take care of themselves.
In November, the mustaches are taking over – and it's happening right under our noses. Just don't let these health matters grow out of control too.
If you've experienced changes indicative of prostate or testicular problems, or are struggling with your mental health, talk to your primary care physician about what they can do to help. To find a provider near you, visit https://bit.ly/PCP_Online today!