Movember is a campaign that was started in 2003 by two mates from Australia, Travis Garonne and Luke Slattery, who jokingly decided to bring back the fashion of growing a moustache. They were inspired by a friend’s mum who was fundraising for breast cancer, they associated the moustache with a pink ribbon, but for men. This is how the campaign began being about men’s health- Prostate cancer, Testicular cancer and mental health. Since then, the movement has spread across the world like wild fire.

Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity even. The goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health. By encouraging men (whom the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved. Movember aims to increase early detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Using the moustache as the driving symbol of the movement, Movember focuses on the three key areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed male cancer with a percentage prevalence of 36% per 100,000 males worldwide and a 39.6% per 100,000 males in Uganda in 2021, 12.6% of males suffered mental health issues worldwide with 3.6% of males being affected mentally in Uganda. Testicular cancer accounts for 1% of male cancers globally in men aged 15-40 years. Though Testicular cancer seems less of a threat, it’s on the raise. Let’s focus on testicular cancer in Movember.

Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the testicles, which are part of the male reproductive system. Testicular cancer usually presents with symptoms like:

  • Painless lump or swelling on either testicles; a size of a pea or marble if found out earlier.
  • Pain, discomfort or numbness in a testicle or the scrotum with or without swelling.
  • The testicle feels heavy or there is heaviness in the scrotum, forexample the testicle may become firmer than the other.
  • Testicular cancer may cause the testicles to grow bigger or to become smaller than the other.
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
  • Sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Breast tenderness or growth, though rare.
  • Lower back pain, shortness in breath, chest pain and bloody sputum or phlegm can be symptoms of late stage testicular cancer.

The risk factors to testicular cancer include;

  • An undescended testicle.
  • Family history of testicular cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Carcinoma inside of the testicle
  • Having had testicular cancer before
  • Age, usually 15-40 years
  • Race and ethnicity. Whites are 4-5x more likely to suffer from testicular cancer than black and Asian men.

Diagnosis is usually by physical examination, ultra sound and blood tests to measure tumor markers. Treatment includes Surgery (Orchiectomy), chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy. The specific treatment plan depends on the stage and type of cancer.

As men, we are too quick to dismiss a small thing in health that might lead to bigger health complications. Go for that check up! Testicular cancer has the highest cure rates if detected early!

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