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