25 Nov 2018

Decembeard a chance to raise awareness with facial hair

5:43 pm on 25 November 2018

Decembeard kicks off next month, giving men a chance to grow awareness of bowel cancer, while fostering facial hair.

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In December, it's possible to do good by letting facial hair grow. Photo: 123rf

The campaign from 1 to 31 December gives men a chance to raise money and awareness for Bowel Cancer New Zealand by getting beardy.

"Beards aren't just for hipsters, those with tattoos, men that ride motorbikes or people that are too lazy to shave. Anyone can help make real change happen," the Decembeard website states.

Beard growth did not have to be lush - chin stubble or fairy fluff was enough to help beat New Zealand's second most deadly cancer, after lung cancer, the organisation said.

Decembeard is in its fifth year in New Zealand, after being launched in the United Kingdom in 2012.

The campaign had already raised $1000 this week, before officially starting.

New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of bowel cancer in the world, according to Bowel Cancer New Zealand.

Each year about 3000 people are diagnosed with the disease and more than 1200 die.

About 75 percent of bowel cancer is curable if caught early. If it remains undetected, cancer cells can travel to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

The symptoms of bowel cancer include going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser stools for several weeks, bleeding from the bottom, severe abdominal pain, lumps in the tummy, weight loss, and tiredness.

While bowel cancer is more common in people aged over 50, it affects people of all ages.

A national bowel screening programme has started in some areas, offering free screening to people aged 60 to 74.

Waitemata, Counties Manukau, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Southern, Nelson-Marlborough and Hawke's Bay district health boards offer free screening.

The remaining health boards are expected to join the programme by the middle of 2021.

People receive a free bowel screening test kit that is used at home. It detects traces of blood in bowel motions.

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