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17th December 2014

The Moustache: is it the pink ribbon for men?

Close to a million men from the UK through Finland to Singapore pledge to growing moustaches for 30 days in November. And it’s a lot more serious than it sounds. It’s Movember.

A global campaign rooted form Australia and now running in 21 countries to raise awareness on men’s health. In particular about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. Anyone can join by pledging to take part in a moustache growing marathon for 30 days.

Credit: Movember.co.uk

Adding a “mo” to taboo

What really makes this campaign stand out and ultimately so successful is how it tackled sensitivity. Let’s face it: prostate cancer is an uncomfortable topic. But when avoiding the conversation leads to avoiding the issue, we’ve got a problem. The idea of centring it on moustaches, immediately added something light-hearted to it, making it more approachable and less awkward.

The simple gesture of growing moustache to start conversations and raise awareness, where anyone can participate (yep, even women) went viral in the past decade. It’s one of the very few campaigns targeting men, about an issue specific to them, giving them a chance to raise awareness for a “manly cause” in a masculine way. It’s like their “pink ribbon for breast cancer”, and they really do pledge on it.

Last year the campaign managed to raise over $120 million globally, with UK topping the list as the top funding nation donating $31.9 million.

Getting tested

There are two ways men can get checked for prostate cancer. One is a blood test, the other a digital rectal exam (DRE). During the blood test, the doctor will look for a specific prostate protein (called PSA) that could indicate prostate cancer. It’s important to know though, that the presence of that protein doesn’t necessarily mean the patient is suffering from cancer, it could also indicate inflammation or prostatic hyperplasia.

The digital rectal exam is a bit more uncomfortable, as the doctor will insert their finger in the patient’s anus and check internally for any enlargements, bumps, and lumps that could indicate a tumour.

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Header Photo credit: Eduardo Gaviña/Flickr