Movember highlights importance of early cancer detection

There’s just one more week to go in the annual Movember campaign, which raises critical funds for men’s mental health initiatives and cancer research.

The initiative, which sees people grow moustaches through the month of November, also raises awareness about early detection, something one Canadian we’re hearing from says is especially important.

Glen Williams of Aurora, Ontario, says his prostate cancer was diagnosed five years ago, after going undetected for about eight months.

“Early detection is critical. As we know, the hallmark of most cancers is that it’s a fast-moving disease. Luckily, with prostate cancer it’s not. So the sooner that it’s detected, the sooner it can be dealt with and eradicated,” he told CityNews.

The 60-year-old is waiting on the results of a clinical trial to see if his cancer has spread further.

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“I think the bottom line is, really, really pay attention to your health. Pay attention to any changes. The worst thing you can hear is, ‘there’s nothing to worry about, you’re fine,’ and not always being comfortable with that and saying, ‘okay, I’m good, I don’t have to think about it for the next year, two years. Stay on top of that,” he urged.

“As we age, things do slow down and things change, but sometimes they’re changing for a reason that is a little deeper and a little more serious.”

Almost seven million Mo Bros and Mo Sisters have signed up to help raise money for Movember since 2003.

Dr. Mike Fraser, the director of cancer program implementation for Movember, previously told CityNews the fundraiser has invested more than $100 million into prostate cancer research in Canada since 2007.

Fraser says initially in the fundraiser’s life, money was used to look at the basic science of prostate cancer and lessons learned in the lab. Now, it’s about filling gaps in the research.

“First is around the issue of equity and diversity in prostate cancer research, and in prostate cancer in general, we know that men from African [and] Caribbean backgrounds have a disproportionately high incidence of prostate cancer and they tend to have poor outcomes from prostate cancer. And so one of the major goals is to fund research into that,” Fraser explained.

But it’s not just the outcome of the research that Movember is looking at, either. It’s who’s doing the important work.

“[We] identified that women researchers are underfunded relative to men, and really need to be encouraged to get into prostate cancer research and drive some of the new exciting aspects of the research,” Fraser said.

This year is the 16th annual Movember campaign. More than 60,000 Canadians participated last year alone, raising nearly $25 million.

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