What’s With the Mustache?


From left: Ivan Salvador, Thomas Amaya, Carlos Olvera, Ricardo Kirgan, Cesar Mendoza and Terence Maynard. Photo by Lauren Anderson.

By Carlos Olvera

It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.

Everyone agrees that the mustache is not the best look for me, but not everyone knows the reason behind it. Every November, also known as Movember, men and women join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. The Movember Foundation aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths.

So what triggered my decision to participate in this campaign?  Over 15 years ago, my dad was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal, prostate and bladder cancer. He never went for his routine colonoscopy. For years he experienced rectal bleeding but didn’t think much of it. He thought it was just hemorrhoids and he never mentioned the symptoms to his primary care physician.

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Rush Docs Sport Mustaches for Cancer Awareness

(Top row, from left) John Meyer, Preston Smith, Neal Khurana, Chris Wickman. (Middle) Dan Jeong, Kumar Madassery, Jack Laney, Paul Lewis. (Bottom) Nabeel Anwar, Christian Malalis, Mehmet Kocak, Ankur Patel. Photos by Lauren Anderson, Rush Photo Group.

Noticed a few more mustachioed medical staff members roaming the Rush corridors? It’s not your imagination. It’s Movember. On behalf of his fellow radiology residents (and a few attending physicians), Kumar Madassery, MD, explains:

All those men out there who have always had a mustache, and may feel slighted by us making mockery of a mustache, let me say we honor and are in awe of you fellow sirs. I don’t think anyone of us can go more than five minutes without feeling the itch or prickly spines of the lip grasses that we have been nurturing. Our hats go off to all of those who wear them all day, every day as part of their natural rugged good looks.

The reason for growing mustaches is that we need something to display our support and awareness of men’s cancers, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. In a sense, prostate cancer is the male version of breast cancer. Statistics from the National Cancer Institute show that between 2005 through 2009, approximately 155 out of every 100,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. To put that in perspective, the same institution reports in the same period about 124 per 100,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Men have a 16 percent lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and approximately 28,170 men will die in 2012 from it.

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