Movember is here – an ever-timely reminder for all men out there to take care of their health. Because she'll be right, until she won't.
So we decided to give this campaign the love and attention it deserves, by pulling together a list of key health checks that every man should put on his to-do list. No excuses! But first, some facts and figures that you may not expect.
Kiwi men's health by the numbers
Whether it's mental health or physical well-being, data shows that men pass away on average five years earlier than women. But it doesn't need to be this way: prevention and early detection can help massively.
So, here are some New Zealand numbers you may not know about (and unfortunately, there's no sugar-coating it):
- Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men: every year, 4,000 cases are diagnosed and 700 men die from it (source: Prostate.org.nz). But a person's survival rate beyond 5 years is 98% if prostate cancer is diagnosed early (source: HealthNavigator.org.nz).
- Every year, about 150 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, double the rate of the 1970s. And 15–35 is the age group in which testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. (source: Testicular.org.nz)
- In 2020, 444 men committed suicide (source: HealthNavigator.org.nz). During their lifetime, one in eight men will experience a serious episode of depression (source: Depression.org.nz).
These are not pleasant thoughts, at all. But as the Movember campaign reminds us, it's important that men talk more about it, know their numbers, and get those life-saving health checks lined up. Starting with...
Testicular cancer check-up: as early as needed
Testicular cancer 'only' makes up 1% of all male tumours. But what many people don't realise is that it's not an 'old person' issue. In fact, it's the most common form of cancer in men aged 15 to 39.
That alone is a great reason to keep an eye on it. It starts with self-checking (something that unfortunately only 30% of men do), to get to know when something feels off. Here's a handy guide to get you started, and if something is not quite right, the next step is making a check-up appointment.
No one knows exactly what causes testicular cancer, and while there are risk factors to be aware of, it can happen to anyone. As the guys at Movember say, it's never too early to look after your 'nuts and bolts'.
Prostate cancer screening: from age 50 (a little earlier with risk factors)
Men who develop prostate cancer are mostly over the age of 65 and this issue rarely occurs in men younger than 55. But early detection does save lives, so ideally regular screening should start at age 50. Or even earlier, at 45, if you have a family history or you're of African or Caribbean descent.
A PSA test is a simple routine blood test. Make sure you talk with your doctor about whether testing is right for you.
Cholesterol test: from age 45
Medical experts in New Zealand recommend all men aged over 45 to have their blood cholesterol checked once every 10 years. Also known as a lipid profile, a cholesterol blood test can help your doctor assess your heart health. Then, based on other cardiovascular disease risk factors, they will tell you if you need treatment.
Heart and diabetes checks: as early as age 30 (depending on risk factors)
Over 9,500 strokes are experienced each year, according to Stroke Foundation NZ, and high blood pressure is the number-one modifiable risk factor for it.
So, when do men need to get their pressure checked? It depends on things like age, ethnicity and more, so make sure you talk to your doctor. The general guidance for men is:
- Age 45 and over, if you have no known riskfactors;
- Age 35 and over if you have risk factors like smoking, a family history or personal history of diabetes or high cholesterol, kidney disease, heart disease etc.;
- Age 30 and over, if you're Māori, Pasifika or South Asian.
Like to get involved?
Check out nz.movember.com if you'd like to learn more about the Movember campaign and men's health. If you'd rather not (or can't!) grow a moustache for the cause, there are still other ways to support it. And remember: having appropriate health cover can help you stay on top of your health, by giving you access to premium medical treatment. Use our quote compare tool to explore your options.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.