Dear Dr. G,

Thank you for your yearly effort and contribution in addressing the taboo subject of men’s health, especially in the month of November.

I am 50 years old and reasonably healthy with good libido, and I really would like to maintain it that way.

In the month of November, I cannot help but to find out more about my prostate.

I understand the prostate symptoms will result in dribbling, slow flow, and nighttime urination. Sadly, I started having such symptoms in recent months.

As I really know nothing about prostate, I am hoping to put Dr. G on the spot for clarifications.

What exactly is the prostate? What does it do?

How do I know whether my prostate is in a good state of health?

Who exactly is at risk of getting prostate cancer?

I also understand the importance of check-ups and self-examinations for male cancer. Can you comment on the methods and frequency of prostate self-examinations?

I also heard that blood tests for prostate is not so accurate, is that true?

Incidentally, I am hoping to grow a moustache for the month of November, will Dr. G be doing the same thing?

Movember Moustache Morris

The prostate gland is often described as a walnut-shaped organ located within the pelvis of a man. This reproductive organ is positioned between the bladder and the penis and surrounding the urethral. The function of the prostate is essentially for procreation, secreting fluid as nutrients for sperms.

The prostate continues to grow beyond the reproductive years. The enlargement can potentially be troublesome as it risks obstructive urinary flow and impairment of sexual dysfunction. In a more serious manner, the ageing process may even result in cancerous changes.

It is widely reported the prevalence of prostate cancer is on the rise globally. Although the gland is prone to cancerous changes amongst African American men, individuals with the family history of breast cancer caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are also more at risk of prostate cancer at earlier age. Scientific data also showed that obese men with sedentary lifestyle and high intake of animal fat had higher prevalence of such cancer. Consumption of synthetic man-made chemicals that exist in pesticides mimicking compounds known as xenoestrogens, interfering with healthy male estrogen-testosterone ratio, is thought to be responsible for such growth.

The symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and cancerous changes are completely undifferentiated. It is also difficult to rely on the symptoms to identify early presentation of cancer. The prostate status is usually determined by clinicians, by digital rectal examination (DRE). A man would be oblivious to the state of his prostate as it is located deep inside the pelvis. Therefore, the self-examination of prostate is usually impossible (unless you have a very long finger to reach the rectum). The current screening tool for prostate cancer is a simple blood test called PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). As the protein released in the blood stream in both benign and cancerous glands, the test is not accurate and may cause some degree of anxiety when elevated. Despite the shortcoming, this test is the most non-invasive and economical mode for the detection.

The initial screening blood tests for prostate cancer is crucial to identify men with the potential risk of cancer. The elevation tumour markers often lead to further investigations such as MRI scan or Trans Rectal Ultrasound Guided Biopsy. Only early detection of prostate cancer can cure men from this debilitating disease Therefore, the health awareness campaigns such as #onlymencan, Blue October and Movember November movements can bring about more public awareness to encourage more men to come forward for prostate cancer screening.

Today is the first Sunday of November, it is hard to imagine 17 years ago, a group of young men in Adelaide, South Australia who coined the term “Movember” and the idea of growing moustaches for charity throughout the month of November in a pub can literally change the face of Men’s Health. The World Champion British Formula One driver, Jenson Button once said: “My Movember moustache was never going to be as big as Nigel Mansell’s. But I tried my best. The amazing thing is that when you try to grow a moustache, you notice everyone else’s. There are some amazing moustaches on the grid”.

It took everyone by surprise how the simple growth of facial hair can generate awareness and break down taboo of an embarrassing topic of cancer in “men’s bits”. The true amazing thing is when you try to grow a moustache yourself, you don’t just notice there are some “amazing moustaches on the grid”, you also notice the power of a campaign movement that can save lives. I will be growing my moustache for prostate cancer awareness this month, why don’t you?

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