Op-Ed: The importance of “Movember”

As November winds down, I want to make the most of the opportunity to address some of the recent scruff around college campuses across the country.

Movember, a combination of “Mustache” and “November,” is an annual month-long event in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and “change the face of men’s health.” The popularity of Movember has inspired other facial hair growing contests, including “No Shave November,” which is not affiliated with Movember.

Personally, I chose to participate because I wanted to help spark awareness for college men’s health as an administrator and a testicular cancer survivor. With thousands of college students on campus and thousands more I can reach through social media, it seemed worthwhile to abandon my razor for a mere 30 days.

Over a lifetime, a man’s risk of testicular cancer is roughly one in 270. It is the most common cancer in males aged 15 to 30 years, the general range of undergraduate and graduate students I interact with. If found, as it was in my case, testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers at above 90 percent – and 99 percent if it has not metastasized. A quick online review can help men learn the simple steps to conduct a self exam, discover a possible problem and schedule a clinical consultation with a medical professional.

Prostate cancer may affect many of our alumni and parents since it tends to develop in men older than 50. Over a lifetime, a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer is one in six. While rates of detection do vary, there are symptoms and signs to look out for which indicate the presence of prostate cancer. So, know the facts and see a medical professional to detect this cancer early.

The basic tests administered during an annual physical exam can help identify the early stages of both testicular and prostate cancers. And while neither is a test you want to flunk, the very treatable prostate cancer and curable nature of testicular cancer make them the first steps to fight two cancers that affect college men on campus, along with their friends and families.

I encourage you to embrace the tenets behind the Movember facial hair campaign to help fight cancers that may affect a man you love.

Peter Konwerski is the Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Student Affairs.

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