Movember (sometimes called No Shave November or Moustache November) is upon us with men across the country sporting varying degrees of facial hair in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of cancer prevention in men. It’s for total cancer awareness actually, but since the idea of letting your facial hair grow wild is primarily aimed at the male population — and we did just come off of Pink Out October — it’s a great time to focus on cancers that target the male gender.

The idea for Movember is two-fold: celebrate the hair often lost by cancer patients during treatment, and donate the money normally spent on shaving supplies to cancer prevention organizations.

But as nice as it is to forego this particular grooming practice for 30 days, cancer prevention is serious business, and, since men are less likely than women to seek medical help early on, raising awareness about early detection is a priority.

The top 3 cancers in men are prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer, in that order.  Unfortunately, prostate and colorectal cancers often don’t present symptoms until the later stages, and lung cancer can have early symptoms like headaches, coughing and hoarseness, that don’t seem indicative of a major illness.  It’s only if the symptoms are prolonged and worsen over time that men are alerted to a bigger problem, so it’s important to pay attention to health changes and discuss them with your healthcare practitioner at regular check-ups.

In addition, knowing your risk factors and practicing preventative measures can go a long way in keeping you from becoming one of the more than 1.8 million people who will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

Age, race, family history, and lifestyle choices such as whether or not you smoke, drink to excess, and maintain healthy diet and exercise habits, all contribute to your chances of developing these cancers.  If you are overweight, have diabetes or other risk factors and make less-than-optimal choices regarding your health, monitoring changes even more closely is a good idea.

If you are diagnosed with cancer, conventional treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and drug and hormone protocols, as well as alternative practices to help support your body’s ability to heal. Some of the most common are acupuncture, dietary modifications, and relaxation techniques such as hypnosis, meditation and yoga.

In every case, finding out about cancer early on drastically increases your odds of successful treatment.  So while you’ve put your razor away for the next few weeks, don’t forget the lessons of Movember on the first of December. It’s important to practice cancer prevention every month of the year.