Movember – Tackling Men’s Health
Each November, the Movember Foundation takes over the face of men’s health, seeing an increasing number of men growing moustaches and having meaningful conversations to create positive change for men’s health. The Movember Foundation works to tackle mental health and suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. This Movember make positive MOves for your health.
Men in Australia can expect to live on average 4 years younger than females (AIHW, 2015). Men also die at a higher rate at all stages of life and generally have higher incidence of non-gender specific cancers. Men have a higher rate of death from injury and motor vehicle accidents are over-represented at Emergency Departments around the country. There are also unique gender specific challenges faced by men. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in males in Australia and the 4th leading cause of death (AIHW, 2015).
The Movember Foundation focuses upon three key areas of men’s health.
1. Prostate Cancer
The prostate is a gland unique to males, that sits below the bladder, in front of the bowels. Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate multiply more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumour growth. If left untreated, prostate cancer cells may eventually spread from the prostate to the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours. Most prostate cancers develop without men experiencing any symptoms in the early stages and thus the importance of regular screening becomes vital. If you are over the age of 50 speak to your doctor about having a blood test for PSA (prostate specific antigen). If you are of African or Carribean descent or have a family history of Prostate Cancer it is recommended to commence PSA screening at 45. Although many males can have prostate cancer without symptoms, occasional symptoms can occur. These symptoms may include:
- A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Pain or Difficulty with urination (starting, stopping, or interrupted flow)
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
2. Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 18-39 years, outside of melanoma. Testicular cancer starts as an abnormal growth or tumour that develops in one or both testicles. It has increased risk of occurrence for those with a family history, undescended testicle or fertility problems. Men may experience few or no symptoms of testicular cancer, however important signs to watch for include:
- Swelling or a lump in either testicle (usually painless)
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Aches or pain in the lower abdomen, groin, testicle or scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breast tissue
Regular self-examination for men (know thy nuts) is important in detecting changes in the testes early, so that if treatment is needed it can start as early as possible. If you are experiencing any of these or symptoms relating to prostate issues, contact and speak openly with your GP.
3. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
On average, 1 in 8 men will have depression and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Men are also less likely to speak out about it or seek help, increasing risk of depression or anxiety going unrecognised and untreated over time. Thankfully this culture is beginning to change with movements such from the organisation ‘Livin’ helping encourage men to speak out. Seeking help can be much easier than you think with great information at organisations like Livin and Beyond Blue. The simple acronym ALEC encouraged from R U OK Day are steps that are worth knowing to help a mate: 1. Ask how is he feeling? 2. Listen 3. Encourage action 4. Check in
This Movember, the Movember Foundation has also incorporated the MOVE challenge. Run or walk 60km across the month of November. That is 60km for every life that we lose each hour, every hour, across the world. Challenge yourself to move in as many ways you can to help live a happier, healthier life. This Movember make positive moves for your health. Get MOVING and go and visit your GP to have a men’s health assessment. Visit your Physiotherapist or GP to find out more and get help making some meaningful changes to your health. One of the biggest predictors of men improving their health and having regular check-ups is spouse support, so help support and encourage the men in your life to better their health. For more great information explore the Movember Foundation Website.
Lewis Craig (APAM)
Masters of Physiotherapy
Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare annual report 2014–15. Cat. no. AUS 195. Canberra: AIHW
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013. The health of Australia’s males: 25 years and over. Cat. no. PHE 169. Canberra: AIHW
Holden, C. A., McLachlan, R. I., Pitts, M., Cumming, R., Wittert, G., Agius, P. A., … & de Kretser, D. M. (2005). Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS): a national survey of the reproductive health and concerns of middle-aged and older Australian men. The Lancet, 366(9481), 218-224.
Australian Physical Activity Guidelines 2015