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Caring for HiM - Raising Awareness About Prostate Cancer

By Griffin Hospital on 11/21/2016

We “mustache” you a question – Have you seen your doctor this year?

Things are a bit “bushier” around Griffin Hospital this month as staff, physicians and volunteers are growing or wearing mustaches and beards to support men’s health.

Griffin’s Annual Show Your MO contest encourages members of the Griffin family and/or their loved ones to grow a mustache, submit a photo of their current facial hair or sport a fake mustache as part of a competition to see who has the best “MO” (a slang term for mustache).

The challenge is all in good fun, but it has the very important goal of raising funds for Griffin’s Health Initiative for Men (HiM) and increasing prostate cancer awareness.

Show Your MO is modeled after the global Movember campaign, a program to raise funds to help keep men from premature death due to prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health issues.

Caring for HiM

Like Movember, HiM aims to improve the health of men by first encouraging them to see a doctor once a year to understand their health and get the recommended health screenings based on their age, family history and habits.

In the past 5 years, HiM has hosted free health screenings, including prostate cancer screenings, educational talks and has spread awareness with free Father’s Day cards and information tables at community events.

Research shows that most men skip their annual physicals between the ages of 18 and 50. During these, men are at risk for many chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress and cancer. All of these conditions can worsen over time if not addressed, and a primary care physician is best equipped to help guide men on early detection, treatment and lifestyle changes.

Prostate cancer

The statistics on prostate cancer can seem contradictory.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In the U.S., there are more than 2.9 million men who are prostate cancer survivors today. However, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men (behind lung cancer). The ACS estimates that 1 man in 39 will die of prostate cancer.

How can a cancer with such a high rate of survival be the second-leading cause of cancer death in men?

Like many cancers, the answer likely lies in the level of the cancer when it is found.

The ACS states that about 4 out of 5 prostate cancers are found in the “local” stages (also known as Stage I or II), in which there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the prostate. Additionally, many prostate cancers are found at the regional stage, which means the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas (also known as Stage III and the Stage IV cancers that haven’t spread to distant parts of the body). The relative 5-year survival rate for local and regional stage prostate cancer is nearly 100%.

The statistics take a dramatic turn when looking at prostate cancers found at the distant stage where cancers that have spread to distant lymph nodes, bones, or other organs (also known as some types of Stage IV cancer). The relative 5-year survival rate for distant stage prostate cancer plummets to about 28%.

These statistics point to a need for increased screening and awareness about prostate cancer symptoms and risks. Throughout the rest of November, Griffin Hospital and HiM will be sending out prostate cancer facts on the Griffin Hospital’s Facebook page and Twitter feed to inform and encourage men to meet with their physician and discuss their prostate cancer risk and possible screenings. At the end of the month, all the facts will be posted on the HiM webpage.

In the meantime, Griffin will get a little hairier than usual, hoping that some silly (and maybe some debonair) facial hair will be just the thing to get men to see their doctor.

Inside Griffin