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A men's cancer initiative

Shanab is a men’s health initiative that falls under Friends of Cancer Patients’ umbrella initiative “Kashf” for early detection of cancer, addressing prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

Launched in November 2014, Shanab; moustache in Arabic, chiefly addresses testicular cancer and prostate cancer with a complementary focus on men’s mental health. It highlights the importance of early detection and endeavors to eliminate stigmas surrounding both types of cancer. Shanab aims at raising awareness among the target audience about the major health issues men face. It further encourages men to share their health concerns with their surroundings.

Being the most common type of cancer among young men (15-37 yo), most of men are completely unaware of testicular cancer. Worldwide, there are 48,500 new patients diagnosed with testicular cancer each year; 8,900 of these men will die. As for prostate cancer, it mainly occurs in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66. Both types of cancer are curable if detected at the early stages.

Shanab, in light of this, stresses the significance of self-examination in detecting testicular cancer. Similarly, DRE (Digital Rectal Examination)/PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) are two major exams for early detection of prostate cancer.

Shanab seeks to collaborate with various government and private entities including health authorities, corporates, sporting associations and the like, in an attempt to maximise the scope of awareness and promote a culture where health comes before any other considerations.

  • Testicular cancer usually strikes men between the ages of 15 and 35.
  • Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes), which are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction.
  • Testicular cancer is highly treatable, even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle.


Often the first symptoms of testicular cancer is a hard, painless lump on either testicle, other symptoms can include:

  1. A change in the size, shape, tenderness, or feel of the testicle or scrotum
  2. Swelling or pain in the testicle or scrotum
  3. A feeling of heaviness or dragging in the lower abdomen or scrotum
  4. A dull ache in the lower abdomen and groin
  5. Unusual backache that doesn’t go away
  6. Unexplained weight loss
  7. Soreness or sudden unexplained growth of the breast (around the pectoral chest muscle)

Note: Some males get testicular cancer without any of these symptoms. If you have any of the above symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your family physician or other medical professionals and have your concerns checked immediately.

Risk Factors

According to the Canadian Cancer society there is no single cause. A male may be at risk if he:

  1. Is between the ages of 15 to 35
  2. Has a delayed drop of the testicles into the scrotum at birth
  3. Has a family history of testicular cancer
  4. Had abnormal testicle development
  5. Has a certain rare genetic condition
  6. One testicle is significantly smaller than the other.

Note: Some men get the disease with none of these risk factors.


  • Testicular cancer is the number 1 cancer in young men of ages 15-35; yet most men are completely unaware of it.
  • Worldwide, there are 48,500 new patients diagnosed with testicular cancer each year; 8,900 of these men will die.
  • Many men are not aware that testicular cancer is the most common cancer among males between the ages of 15-35.
  • Early detection of testicular cancer makes a positive difference in the treatment and outcome of the disease.
When detected and treated early, testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer.

Early Detection

Testicular Self Examination (TSE) helps detect testicular cancer at its early stages. It is simple and easy. Take shower, this will warm and relax the testicles.

  • Stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling on the scrotum. There should not be any pain when checking your testicles.
  • Hold each testicle so you can feel the size and weight of each one. it can be common for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other and one may also hang lower than the other.
  • Roll each testicle between your thumb and forefinger. It should feel smooth.
  • You will feel a soft, tender, ropy cord at the back of each testicle. This is very normal.
  • After you become familiar with how your testicle feels, you will be able to detect any changes.
  • Try to check them a least once a month.
  • The prostate is part of the male reproductive system.
  • Its major function is to secrete a fluid to nourish semen.
  • The prostate is about the size of a walnut but it can grow with age.
  • It is located below the urinary bladder, in front of the rectum surrounding the urethra (the canal for the discharge of urine that extends from the urinary bladder to the outside)
  • Cancer is a cellular disease.
  • It is a disordered and abnormal cell growth.
  • In prostate cancer, as in other types of cancer, cells grow out of control and form tumors.
  • If the tumor is within the gland, the cancer is said to be localized and curable.
If the cancer escapes the gland, it is considered incurable.


Men might not have any symptoms. Often there are no symptoms, or they are not recognized. However, major symptoms may include:

  • Urinary frequency
  • Slow urinary flow
  • Painful urination
  • blood in urine or semen
  • impotence
  • Lower back or thigh pain

Risk factors

  • Age: The risk increases with age, but 25% of diagnoses are made under age 65.
  • Race: African-Americans have a rate of incidence double that of Caucasian men.
  • Family history of prostate cancer: Men with a family history have two- to three-fold increase in the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Diet: A diet high in saturated animal fat can double the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Early Detection

  • Early detection before the cancer escapes the gland is very important.
  • Early detection and effective treatment when the cancer is localized can possibly save your life
  • Since symptoms can be caused by other conditions annual testing is KEY
  • DRE and PSA together are often able to detect prostate cancer better and sooner than either test alone
  • (PSA) Prostate Specific Antigen is a blood test
  • (DRE) Digital Rectal Examination is a physical exam


  • Men should start taking Digital Rectal Examination annually at the age of 40 (American Cancer Society guidelines)
  • Men should start taking Prostate Specific Antigen test annually at the age of 50 (American Cancer Society guidelines)
  • Men who have family history of prostate cancer or African-American ancestry: should start taking Prostate Specific Antigen test annually at the age of 45
  • It is recommended to have an active life and balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, 5 servings a day
  • Men should lower their intake of red meat, processed and fried foods, and increase plant-based food like soy protein.
  • Meat intake should not exceed¬† 90 g meat per serving
  • Foods with Lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon and red grapefruit) may be associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.