It’s MOVEmber! The truth about African men and cancer
Previous generations of African men did not consider the possibility of contracting cancer, perhaps this is because our grandfather’s generation didn’t really know about the illness. Perhaps it was believed that it was a ‘White man’s disease’ mainly because not many in their community were diagnosed with it.
However, with the change in environment and lifestyle, African men need to be aware of the fact that cancer does not choose any race, culture or gender. Here are some of the biggest myths surrounding the illness and African men debunked.
- Prostate cancer only affects White men. That is not true with any form of cancer, particularly with prostate cancer. Black South African men are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer than they were before. In fact, studies have shown that it usually progresses into an aggressive type for Black South African men.
- If you’re younger than 40, you’re not at risk. This point is usually true when talking about prostate cancer. Testicular cancer, on the other hand, can affect men from 15-39 years of age.
- Only women get breast cancer. Actually, in South Africa, out of every 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer, 2 are men. This may not seem like a high number, but it shows that women are not the only ones who need to worry about breast cancer. The challenge comes in when detecting breast cancer, because men have less breast tissue, it is more difficult to detect lumps.
- Just be a man about it. Early detection is the best way to conquer cancer. Men have the tendency to ignore pains and signs that may need their doctor’s attention. Regular checkups could catch the cancer early and allow you to have a fair fight against it. Listen to your wife, or mother, or sister and see a doctor at any sign or symptom that may appear out of the ordinary.
- If you already have lung cancer, you might as well keep smoking. Even when someone has been diagnosed with any type of cancer, stopping smoking can result in a much better outcome for surgery and recovery. So it is better to put down the pack of cigarettes.
- African skin doesn’t need sunscreen. African sun is a brutal one, and we Africans need sunscreen too. Although the melanin (the pigment that makes our skin darker) in our skin does protect us to a certain extent (SPF 15), we actually need an SPF 30 sunscreen to protect us from UV rays.
In General: Live a healthier lifestyle. Exercise more and eat less processed foods, have more antioxidants and less alcohol (relax, not no alcohol at all) and while you are at it, stop smoking.
For Prostate Cancer: If PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), is high in your system it could indicate inflammation or cancerous cells. A simple blood test or prick can determine your PSA levels. For men with a risk of cancer, such as cancer in the family, get a digital rectal exam annually from your 40th birthday. For men who don’t have a history of cancer in their family, this checkup should be done from the age of 50.
For Testicular Cancer: This one is difficult to detect but it helps to do a testicular self-examination test. Early detection could help you take action immediately and fight it off. Remember, this could affect men from as young as 15 years old and upward. For a step by step lesson on how to perform this test, follow this link: www.testicularcancersociety.org/testicular-self-exam.html
For Colon Cancer: Often colon cancer is detected by screening for polyps, a type of growth. Go for this screening from the age of 50. If you are at risk genetically, start earlier – you will know if you are at risk if there is a history of cancer in your family.
Skin Cancer: Your doctor can check for any signs of skin cancer when you get your annual checkup. If your existing moles change in colour or shape, this could be a concern too.
What is PSA, exactly? It is a protein that is produced by cells in the prostate gland. A high concentration of it in a man’s bloodstream could indicate a swollen prostate or cancer.
And Polyps? They are growths which can develop on the lining of your colon.
Now for the fun part…
According to Movember’s Garron Gsell, “By growing a moustache during Movember, men become walking billboards for men’s health, thereby generating awareness & education.” So become a MoBro and grow a moustache for the month of November to help the cause, or even in memory of someone you know who may have had cancer. It’s for a good cause, and who knows? It may be time for an updated look.
For the ladies in your life… These ladies are called MoSista’s. Women who support their men in gaining knowledge and awareness on male cancers.
What Movember is doing this year: The MOVEmber challenge is on. During the month of November, show us your 30 moves in 30 days in support of this cause. According to www.movember.com, ‘no move is too big or small’. So flex those muscles (big or small) in support of male cancer awareness this Movember. Get on the website for more info about donating funds, hosting Mo parties and more fun ways to help men give cancer the boot.
All images via www.movember.com