Press release (12/11/2018)
The Jules Bordet Institute supports the Movember initiative and stresses the importance of screening for male cancers
12/11/2018 - In Belgium, as everywhere else, the frequency of cancers is increasing slightly every year (0.8% a year on average). This is the result of the ageing population. At the same time, cancer mortality rates are falling dramatically: by 1.6% a year among men, the result of progress in treatment and screening. The month of November, through the Movember movement, is a good opportunity to remind men of the importance of screening for the cancers that affect them.
What is the "Movember" movement?
Movember is an annual event organised by the Movember Foundation Charity. Every November, men from all over the world are invited to grow a moustache to increase public awareness and thereby help raise funds for research into male diseases. The
name results from the contraction of "mo", an abbreviation of moustache, and "November". Since 2003 this Australian Foundation has taken up the challenge of "changing the face of male health". Men who wish to participate in Movember and show their support for the cause can register on the foundation's official site at www.movember.com and begin the month with a clean shave. Having officially become "Mo Bros" they must then leave their moustache to grow and maintain it throughout the month of November
The prevention of male cancers
We are not all equal in the face of cancer. Independently of lifestyle, the risk varies depending on our genetic makeup. Some genetic mutations bring an increased risk.
Similarly, the existence of cancers in the family or personal cancer antecedents increase the individual risk. But for the vast majority of people with an average risk, the share of the avoidable risk is 30-40%. There are two main components of prevention: lifestyle and screening.
The recommended lifestyle measures are summed up in the European Code Against Cancer: don't smoke, drink less, eat better, move and watch your weight.
Screening concerns the most common cancers. For men these are intestinal, prostrate, skin and lung cancer. Screening is becoming increasingly personalised: before proposing screening procedures, the individual risk is assessed.
Screening for male cancers
- Prostate cancer
The most common cancer among men. It affects one in 10 men.
There are pros and cons to prostate cancer screening. It permits detection of cancers at an early stage, which is the only stage when it is curable. But there is the risk of overtreatment (detection of cancers that would not have posed a problem if they had not been detected and are therefore treated unnecessarily). In men with no particular risk the screening can be proposed from the age of 50 and consists of measuring every two years the "PSA" (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level in the blood by means of a digital rectal examination. It is the speed at which the PSA level changes that is important rather than its actual level. In the event of an anomaly, magnetic resonance imaging enables a urologist to recommend a biopsy. The risk increases in cases of genetic mutation, a family history or among men of African origin.
- Testicular cancer
Rarer, this often affects young men. A family history, cryptorchidism (undescended testicle), infertility or the consumption of cannabis are risk factors. Progress resulting from a multidisciplinary approach at a reference centre now makes it possible to beat this cancer in most cases and even at an advanced stage
- Intestinal cancer (colorectal cancer)
For the vast majority of men (average risk) it is recommended to undergo a test for the presence of blood in the faeces ("Colotest") every two years from the age of 50, or a coloscopy every 10 years. In rare cases there can be a genetic risk (certain intestinal diseases are hereditary). The risk is also higher when there is a history of intestinal cancer among close family members or among persons suffering from an inflammatory disease of the colon. In these cases screening by coloscopy every two to five years is recommended, sometimes from the age of 40. A diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables, a limited consumption of meat and alcohol, regular physical activity and a correct weight all reduce the risk of intestinal cancer.
- Lung cancer
Screening for lung cancer is reserved for persons aged over 55 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years and who stopped smoking less than 15 years ago (or who still smoke). For these risk persons it is also recommended to undergo a low dose thoracic scan every year. In this way it is possible to reduce by a quarter deaths from lung cancer among this risk group.
- Skin cancer
Screening for this cancer is not recommended systematically for everyone. It is useful for people with a white skin and a high risk: cases of skin cancer among close family members, pale skin that is sensitive to the sun, high exposure to the sun (outdoor occupations, living in very sunny climates). Some genetic mutations ((BRCA 2, etc.) increase the risk significantly. Screening consists of a visual examination once a year, possibly coupled with a cartography and dermatoscopy if a suspect lesion is detected, with self-monitoring based on ABCDE criteria (Asymmetry, irregular Borders, uneven distribution of Colour, a Diameter that is greater than 6 mm or Different (another aspect than the other naevi), Evolution or Elevation (thickness).