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Movember: The power of the Mo!


The word Mo is Australasian slang for a moustache and whilst not a northern hemisphere phrase this hasn't prevented rapid dissemination across the globe. Although originally an innovation solely in Australia and New Zealand for its first 6-7 years, Movember is now taking the world by storm with the UK and Canada leading the way. Staggeringly last year in the UK more than 363,000 men grew a hairy upper lip and in doing so raised over £27 million.

The Movember foundation donates the proceeds to men's health charities which is primarily (around 70%) prostate cancer but also donates to charities supporting mental illness and this year will contribute to the orchid trust for testicular cancer. Money raised from the UK campaign goes to Prostate Cancer UK, which received £14.6m for the year to April 2013, and the Institute of Cancer Research, which received £299,891 for the same period.

When working in urology clinics where one meets up to 20 new patients a day that's many conversations about this issue helping to raise awareness and hopefully directing people to the website to donate to the UK Movember site.

Ben Challacombe with his Mo

Slightly worryingly many of my non-medical friends who I have spoken to whilst they have also been sporting a “Mo” have little or no real idea why they are actually doing it. Often the response is “it’s for charity” or “our whole office is doing it”. Despite this Movember is now truly mainstream with several years more “growth” expected in most countries.

So what have the Prostate Cancer UK done with a revenue income that has increased by many times in recent years and now stands at £15 million per annum from Movember alone? Well they have clearly needed to change a few things, employ more people and advertise for more research grant opportunities. Some are frustrated with how long this has taken and ask for clarity as to where the funds are being effectively used but these things take a while to set up properly. We all hope to see more evidence of how the money is working this year.

Will I be doing my 5th Movember this year? Well absolutely, despite much disapproval from my wife! As a prostate cancer specialist if we, who feel truly passionate about helping men with prostate cancer, can't raise the issue by this simple and effective piece of body art then how can we expect others to take it up? This initiative was a big favourite of the late John Anderson who left a wish for urologists to join his personal Movember team and even our editor-in-chief has sported the Mo!

Prokar Dasgupta outside the BJUI offices in Movember 2012

The late John Anderson in Movember 2009


So Mo brothers and sistas let’s keep up the good work and prepare for another bumper crop of upper lip hair! 

Ben Challacombe
Associate Editor, BJUI 

  1. Sam Bhayani
    OK, I am going to do it... This will be fun. Surely, will get a lot of questions at the robotics meetings that week in the states. Nevertheless, a great new way to show awareness!
  2. Roger Kirby
    Ben is right! All those who have an interest in prostate cancer and men's health should support the game-changing Movember initiative either by growing a mo or (ladies) raising money for the cause next month. The funds raised last year have helped Prostate Cancer UK expand and develop at an extraordinary pace. This Charity, of which I am a Trustee, now has 174 employees and is about to disburse more than £12 million in research grants. It is also poised to establish one, or quite likely two, Movember Centres of Excellence; each of which can expect to receive £5 million support over the next 3 years. Movember also supports important research into testicular cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. Some may bemoan the fact that other areas of men's health have not been the recipients of Movember's benificence, however, it is surely true that if the funds are spread too thinly no ground-breaking results will be achieved and we will therefore be letting down ourselves, and more importantly our patients. Prostate and testicular cancers are as serious a scourge of men as breast cancer is of women, yet receive only a fraction of the funding. Moustache growers and their supporters at last look set to redress the balance. Do log on to the www.movember.com website and sign up before November 1st. You will look great with a mo!
  3. Tim Dudderidge
    Dear Ben,

    I have to admit I am a MoVirgin. I have been off this week and am building up a nice layer of stubble. I can't decide upon the ideal moustache, is "designer stubble" acceptable? Do I need to start from scratch, clean shaven on Nov 1st? Certainly my wife also disapproves of moustaches in general, but now supports my commitment to this worthy international movement to raise awareness and money for mens health issues.

    The Southampton team did really well last year so I hope with a few more 'taches on the team we can fill our Movember coffers even higher than last year!

  4. David Bouchier-Hayes
    Personally Ben, having been inspired by the pure hideousness of some of your previous attempts, I'm embarking on my first Movember. I'm going to put some seed money into the donation by asking for a small honorarium that I am due for a talk be donated to my Movember appeal instead, which is hugely agreeable to the pharmaceutical company, and has made me more committed to the cause. It's a bit of humour/fun and, as you correctly point out, raises awareness through conversation. The November rugby international matches may help raise a little awareness also!
  5. John Davis
    Great post. I'm sure you will raise a lot of attention. We had 4 staff and trainees do it last year on our side of the pond. I, unfortunately, would have to use a prop mo.
  6. Justin Collins
    Movember is a fantastic idea to raise cash? The renaming of a month has been replicated several time but I would think Movember has had the biggest success. As well as being visible and it's own advertising board, A 'mo' also seems a good metaphor. Charitable donations can make a big difference and a small moustache can radically change the way someone looks. Ben now has a distant Mexican relative and what is Errol Flynn doing outside the BJUI office?
  7. Tim Dudderidge
    For other Newbies - THE RULES!
  8. Amrith Rao
    Great Blog by ‘Mo Bro’ Ben and hopefully this year’s event will be bigger than the previous years in raising awareness about Men’s Health. As highlighted by this blog, most of the funds from Prostate Cancer UK go towards prostate cancer research. Ongoing research in prostate cancer is critical to identify novel markers to differentiate the indolent forms from the more aggressive cancers.

    As a Urologist, we not only have an obligation to raise awareness about prostate health but also about testicular and bladder cancer. It is still disappointing to see many young men who present with advanced and metastatic testicular tumours, having noticed the lump many months ago! I strongly feel that Testicular Self Examination (TSE) should be promoted as rigorously as Breast Self Examination. As a Physician, we also have an obligation in November to discuss about smoking cessation, alcohol consumption and obesity. All the three are implicated in major medical conditions and cancers, including genito-urinary organs. It has been shown that men are more reluctant to seek medical attention as compared to women even though they have symptoms of the disease (https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8588686.stm). This is reflected by the fact that the life expectancy of men is nearly 5 years less than that of women (https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/January/mars-vs-venus-the-gender-gap-in-health). In the top ten killers, other than Alzheimer’s, men are nearly twice more likely to die as compared to women (https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/January/mars-vs-venus-the-gender-gap-in-health). Therefore, there is a huge ‘gender gap’ when it comes to men’s health and this needs to be narrowed. The only way to do this is by raising the awareness about men’s health and Movember movement is leading the way. ‘Mo Bro’ Ben has taken on this challenge and has successfully raised funds in the past years and I am wishing him all the best for this year.
  9. Matthew Brown
    The Movember concept is commendable because it is a light hearted way to open a serious conversation: men's health issues are important and have been largely neglected by fundraising initiatives in the past. Charitable donations through Movember will boost research and standards of frontline care in prostate cancer. As prostate cancer surgeons, we need to lead the charge for Movember and encourage others to join the cause.
  10. Phil Dundee
    Ben, I think you raise an interesting point in bringing up awareness. Although non-medical friends may not know why they are sporting the 'mo' other than to support charities, I would suggest most medico's with the hairy upper lip don't know exactly where the money is being spent and what research has been funded through these charities.
    We should have greater awareness of these finer points so we can inform patients exactly how these charities are benefitting them.
  11. Christian Brown
    Having done my first effort last year I can only hope it looks better this year! I agree with the sentiment its such a worthy cause and I was impressed by the number of patients growing Mo's last year.
  12. Conrad Bishop
    Ok, so it's THAT time of year again. Gearing up for Movember number seven. This is best done when the whole unit gets involved, we had a great involvement at Guy's Hospital last year on all levels from nurses, registrars and consultants (with the exception of a certain BJUI website editor). I heard a rumour from Ireland that David Bouchier-Hayes has broken with accepted protocol and has been growing his since September..... I'll still sponsor you Dave!
  13. Richard Napier-Hemy
    Great to see so many colleagues growing Mo's. Join the BAUS team tributing John Anderson. There's a BAUS network as well if you are already in a team. Enjoy the month.
    Richard Napier-Hemy
  14. Michele Billia
    Ben, I'm following your lead and yes you're right girls/wifes highly disapprove it!
    Australia and Canada are the main countries leading the Movember initiative. To make a contribution to Movember we have an ongoing phase I RCT University of Western Ontario, looking at the growth of Mo's. i'm currently enrolled and I can't tell more details until the trial is closed. Next year we may able to have an international trial!!!
  15. Garrett Durkan
    Ben, great to catch up with you in Limerick, thanks for addressing our group. Your talk was excellent, but not quite as impressive as your Mo'! 2 more days until I can shave mine off, can't wait, damn thing is itchy! Mrs D does not approve and will be glad to see the back of it. I am in competition locally with David Bouchier-Hayes who is sporting a particularly dodgy mo, although his fundraising is well ahead thanks to him securing a corporate donation.

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