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Movember: Focusing on social awareness about men’s health

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By Prof. Philippos Patsalis

November has been established as the month of social awareness about men’s health, with the characteristic name “Movember”.

The specific movement aims to raise awareness about prostate cancer, the second most common type of cancer among men worldwide, as well as men’s mental health.

The word Movember derives from the combination of the words “moustache” and “November”.

The “Movember” movement started in 2003 in Australia, by a group of 30 friends – and has now turned into a global movement.

Movember has been active in Cyprus since 2012, with the slogan “we change the face of male cancer”, and the response from the public has been increasing each year ever since.

Movements like Movember, which aim at raising public awareness and support, have proved to have significant positive effects.

Since Movember’s initiation, more than 1,200 men’s health programs have been funded worldwide.

By 2030, the movement aims its actions will reduce men’s premature deaths by 25%.

Characteristics of prostate cancer

When we refer to the prostate, we refer to the gland that is located below the bladder and surrounds the urethra.

It is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows throughout a man’s life.

The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of sperm.

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate begin to develop uncontrollably.

Most of the times, prostate cancer doesn’t have any early symptoms, until the tumour begins to grow.

In cases where the cancer is detected in its early stages before it metastasizes to other organs, the prognosis is excellent.

Regular examinations are crucial in the case of prostate cancer because they enable early detection and immediate action.

Some of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are the need for frequent urination, especially at night, difficulty in starting to urinate, poor flow, the feeling that the bladder is not completely empty after urination, and blood in urine or semen.

Factors such as age, ethnicity, family history, obesity and diet have been directly linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Frequency

High incidence of prostate cancer has been recorded worldwide.

Particularly, 1 in 9 men in the general population will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

The incidence risk and mortality rates for prostate cancer are directly related to increasing age.

It is estimated that for men under the age of 50, only 1 in 350 men (incidence rate of 0.28%) have a risk of developing prostate cancer.

However, for older men between the ages of 50-59, the incidence rate increases almost six times, with 1 in 52 men (incidence rate of 1.92%) being at risk of developing prostate cancer.

In Cyprus, recent studies show that the rate of cancer incidence is increasing, with prostate cancer being the most prevalent form of cancer among men.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the year 2018, 751 new cases of prostate cancer were recorded in Cyprus, accounting for 28.6% of all new cases of cancer on the island.

Genetic Testing

As is the case with cancer and other diseases, prevention is the best cure.

Provision of adequate information to the public is necessary for the prevention of prostate cancer so that men are in a position to recognize symptoms or signs relating to prostate cancer and know when to seek help. Innovative genetic tests which help detect the disease while still in its early stages and in taking informed decisions are allies in the fight against prostate cancer.

PreSENTIA is a cutting-edge genetic test that can detect multiple hereditary genetic mutations, which can be passed down from generation to generation and could develop into cancer in the future.

PreSENTIA offers specialized panels for prostate cancer, of which up to 10% is hereditary.

If a person has a family history of prostate cancer, PreSENTIA can help identify the hereditary mutation responsible for causing cancer.

For people that have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are tests for tumour molecular profiling, such as the genetic test ForeSENTIA.

Each tumour has a distinct molecular composition and is caused by different mutations in the DNA.

ForeSENTIA has a specialized panel for prostate cancer, as well as for the most common types of cancer. When the genetic mutation that caused cancer development is detected, it allows patients to receive targeted treatment while increasing the chances of the treatment being effective.

Both PreSENTIA and ForeSENTIA genetic tests were developed in Cyprus, and are offered in multiple countries abroad, providing results with 99,9% accuracy.

The writer is founder and CEO of NIPD Genetics