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Don't be alarmed if you find a steady growth of ugly facial hair around you - it's only going to last 30 days.

The month once known as November is now Movember - the month of the moustache. Men are encouraged to grow moustaches to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

The disease kills 600 men a year in New Zealand, making it the third most common cause of male cancer deaths.

Prostate Cancer Foundation president Barry Young says up to half of those deaths could be prevented if men had regular check-ups.

For that reason the foundation is throwing its support behind Movember.

"Anything anyone can do that will stimulate a man to go to their doctor and say, 'I should have my prostate checked' - that will save a life," says Mr Young.

Several accounting firms and the television programme Sportscafe are running competitions to promote the month.

Sportscafe presenter Ric Salizzo says the programme will present the Mexted Cup, in honour of former moustachioed All Black Murray Mexted, to the best moustache.

Contestants should send Sportscafe a photo of them clean-shaven next to a newspaper showing the date, and repeat the process later in the month when sporting a fine moustache.

The male members of the Sportscafe cast are considering growing moustaches.

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is encouraging its staff to participate and pay $1 for each day they have a moustache. The proceeds will be sent to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

PWC's Movember co-ordinator, Brent Goldsack, says the month will be a good chance to change the perception of accountants.

"I guess accountants are seen as pretty serious people. We are - but we like to have a bit of fun too," says Mr Goldsack.

Movember began in Australia last year and raised A$55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation there.

Mr Young wants to see high-profile men enter into the spirit of the month. He would especially like new Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade and Defence Minister Phil Goff sporting moustaches.

Not everyone is enamoured of the theme. The girlfriend of one PWC tax consultant has offered to donate double the money to the foundation that her boyfriend would otherwise raise if he does not grow a moustache.