‘Taches to fight prostate cancer

South African men are urged to grow their
furriest, funkiest moustaches to spread
awareness for prostate cancer.
(Image: Grow Your Mo’)

• Nelia Blumrick
Grow Your Mo’ campaign
+27 82 316 8535

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South African men are being encouraged to ditch their razors and grow their thickest, furriest moustaches to get people talking about prostate cancer, a highly stigmatised condition that affects one in every six men.

The first-ever Grow Your Mo’ drive, a quirky initiative of the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), is intended to help protect men across South African by raising the public’s awareness of prostate cancer-related issues and generating support for the PCF’s cancer-fighting efforts.

PCF is hoping that this humorous and light-hearted idea will help spread the message to as many man as possible in a non-threatening way.

All proceeds raised by the campaign, which runs from 15 to 30 September 2009 to coincide with Prostate Awareness Month, will be donated to the PCF.

Campaign coordinator Nelia Blumrick says the drive got off to a great start: “This is the first time we’ve launched such a campaign. It’s actually been going really well, and once people started talking about it, it really started picking up.”

“We started out by putting up the [Grow Your Mo’] Facebook group, and then the website, and then it started spreading by word of mouth,” says Blumrick.

The campaign encourages participants to submit photos of their manly facial hair to the Grow Your Mo’ website and enter the Best mo’ on show competition. The best moustache each week during the 15-day campaign will be displayed for all to see in the Man of the Mo’ment frame on the site.

“Every aspect of ‘Mo’-craft’ will be taken into account: length, shape, colour, grooming, luxuriance, novelty and so forth. The men who make names for themselves in this competition will go down in history as some of the finest specimens humanity has ever produced,” reads the website.

At the end of the month there will be grand prize-winner, although the booty is being kept a secret.

For those not so keen to sprout their whiskers, there’s a Mo money draw, which can be entered by sending a text message with your name to 40026 – the number is applicable only in South Africa, though. Messages cost R20 (US$2.69), which will be donated to PCF. Alternatively you can send a cash pledge to the organisation, the banking details of which are on the website.

The campaign can also be followed on the social networking site, Twitter.

What is prostate cancer?

According to PCF, prostate cancer is the leading cancer among men in South Africa and more than 4 000 men are diagnosed with it every year.

It occurs when cells within the prostate – a gland in the male reproductive system – grow uncontrollably and form a number of small tumours.

If caught early surgery or radiation can effectively eliminate the tumours, but in its early stages the cancer produces few or no symptoms and can be difficult to detect.

If untreated and allowed to grow, the cells from the tumours can spread in a process called metastasis. Prostate cancer cells are transported through the lymphatic system and the bloodstream to other parts of the body, where they lodge and grow secondary tumours.

Once the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, chances of it being treated successfully are reduced.

Early detection vital

Abnormal cell growth in the prostate can be detected early if men go for regular medical check-ups, where a digital rectal exam or Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is carried out.

If a blood sample reveals high levels of PSA, a protein produced in the prostate, there could be cause for concern.

PCF says it’s unfortunate that men often know more about breast cancer than they do about prostate cancer, as it’s not as widely publicised.

“I think most men are aware of it, but they don’t want to talk about it, because it has to do with their genital parts. I think if it were any other part of the body, it would be easier to talk about,” Blumrick adds.

The older the man, the more susceptible he is to prostate cancer. In the US more than 65% of cases are found in men over the age of 65. Men who have had a parent or brother with prostate cancer, and those with a poor diet and lifestyle, are also more at risk.

Although there are no clear-cut signs of prostate cancer, PCF says men should see a doctor promptly if the following symptoms occur:

• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Painful or burning urination
• Difficulty in having an erection
• Painful ejaculation
• Blood in urine or semen, or
• Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.