“Movember” is a popular November fundraising campaign that inspires men worldwide to grow mustaches to raise awareness for cancer. It creates buzz, raises funds for the Movember organization and floods Twitter with photos of straggly stashes. What it doesn’t do, according to a new study, is result in an increase of online searches about the disease.
The study, which gathered information from 2012 to 2018 and was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, found that search results in November would peak for “Movember” and “mustache,” but not for “PSA,” which is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. Additionally, the volume of web searches for the term “prostate cancer,” it found, showed a decreasing number of searches over the past six years (which is coincident, the study says, with declining yearly donations and registered participants beginning in 2012).
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Researchers say the results are not entirely surprising: Movember has caught on with young men and has a prominent social media component — men seem to like posting funny photos of their mustaches — but prostate cancer usually affect men over 65 years of age. Younger generations, the study notes, may not feel any urgency to learn about how to screen for the disease.
Additionally, the study says, a task force of top oncologists changed the prostate cancer screening guidelines in 2012 to recommend against routine PSA tests for prostate cancer, and to encourage men between ages 55 to 69 to speak to their doctors about the screening.
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The researchers also looked into “Pinktober,” the massive October campaign for raising funds for breast cancer. In contrast, researchers found that searches for the words “Pinktober,” “Pink ribbon” and “mammogram” all peak in October.
The Movember organization does much more than just run the campaign in November. It funds “groundbreaking health projects” – 1,250 and counting, according to the website – uniting experts worldwide to work on research, progress and change. The organization raised $18.4 million in 2018, which goes toward work on issues including prostate and testicular cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
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“Mental health in Indigenous people where I’m from is a big issue. I’ve had close mates who have passed away. Last year a good mate of mine, loves footy, just around the boys all the time – when we got the news we just couldn’t believe he had done that. But also, you start reflecting – what did I do? how did I support him? Why wasn’t I there for him? You start asking questions, you’ll never get the answers. . . You’ve got to be able to have the tools, know the signs, and reach out. In Indigenous communities we all have a role to play in each other’s lives. It might just be a phone call or a text.” . . #Movember #MensHealth #InTheBarberChair #WhyIMo #MentalHealth
In order to understand the online impact of these campaigns, researchers looked at Google search trends for words associated with the campaigns like “Movember,” “mustache,” “Pinktober” and “pink ribbon,” and compared them with prostate and breast cancer respectively. They also compared search results for the campaign words with words like “mammogram,” a screening test for breast cancer, and “PSA Test,” a screening test for prostate cancer.