It's that time of year again – Movember.
Clean-shaven men begin to look scruffy, and bearded men reach for their razors.
Movember is a light-hearted way to raise awareness for some serious issues. Moustaches aren't the only thing unique to men – certain health problems are, too.
Diseases such as prostate cancer and testicular cancer are obvious examples. Other concerns, such as mental health, are less talked about but still important.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, genetics and race. A poor diet is also believed to increase changes of getting prostate cancer.
In its early stages, prostate cancer often doesn't cause symptoms. The most common problem is difficulty urinating. However, this is oftentimes caused by an enlarged prostate rather than cancer.
A PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is a common screening for prostate cancer. High PSA levels in a man's blood may indicate prostate cancer, but again this could be caused by an enlarged prostate. A biopsy may be performed to determine the cause of a high PSA.
Prostate cancer is often treated through radiation or surgery. A doctor may recommend one over another based on a man's age, the stage of cancer and other factors.
Testicular cancer is generally rare, but it is the most common cancer for younger men. According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of diagnosis is 33.
In 2015, about 8,400 cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed and 380 men will die, the American Cancer Society estimates.
The survival rate is very high, as testicular cancer can usually be treated successfully through surgery.
Most men who get testicular cancer have no known risk factors. These would include family history or an undescended testicle.
Of course, men should also be aware of the causes and risk factors associated with the most prevalent gender neutral diseases:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. More than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease is often caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. It is caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun or indoor tanning.
- Lung cancer is the most fatal cancer worldwide. It is responsible for about 27 percent of cancer deaths – more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Most lung cancer is caused by smoking. Men are more likely to develop cancer than women, with an overall chance of 1 in 13 versus 1 in 16.
Poor mental health can affect anyone. However, men tend to be less likely to seek treatment for depression and other conditions.
An estimated 5 to 6 million men experience depression each year in the U.S. The highest rate of depression is for men in their 40s and 50s.
According to the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 9 percent of men experience daily feelings of anxiety and depression. Less than half of this group reported taking medication or regularly talking to a mental health professional.
Men are more likely than women to self-medicate by abusing drugs and alcohol.
Eighty-seven men commit suicide each day in the United States. Statistically, women attempt suicide at a higher rate than men. But men act on suicidal thoughts sooner and are more likely to actually take their own lives.
Most health problems are more treatable when they are detected early. So, men, it's important to consult your doctor regarding any changes in your health and to set a plan for physicals and screenings that's right for you.
Movember isn't just about the moustaches.
To find a provider, visit UnityPoint Clinic today.