By Christine Namulindwa
Public Relations Officer, Uganda Cancer Institute
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and the global burden of this disease is rising. Prostate Cancer is the cancer that occurs in a small walnut-shaped gland that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm (man's prostate). Prostate gland is a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate gland secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grows slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
Oncologists at Uganda Cancer Institute advise that men should make an informed decision to be tested for prostate cancer beginning at age 50. Most men are diagnosed between the age of 60 and 70 years, however many of them report to have had symptoms for over two (2) years, meaning that the disease begins at a much earlier age, and many of them appear ignorant of the symptoms of this disease.
Most men with prostate cancer will have no signs, some men will however report symptoms such as frequency of urination, pain on passing urine, hesitation to pass urine, dribbling of urine, urgency of passing urine and late symptoms include blood in urine, lower backache, loss of power in the lower limbs and fractures.
There are however many men with enlarged prostates also known as benign prostatic enlargement (BPE) who will manifest with some of the early signs above. Therefore not all men with the symptoms will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
As a result, routine screenings in the form of Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate Specific Androgen (PSA) tests are important. When it comes to screening for prostate cancer, every man needs to take into account his risk for the disease and consult a doctor. Uganda Cancer Institute advises that men at the age of 50 and older talk to their physician about when to be tested for prostate cancer.
According to a study done at Uganda Cancer Institute by Dr. Fred Okuku, 90% of men had advanced prostate cancer, which means that most men seek care late, this is likely due to low knowledge about the disease in our community. Treating patients with advanced disease is very costly, often the treatment is aimed at prolonging survival and not cures. He added that advanced disease translates into poor outcome.
It is therefore always better to diagnose your problem early for the better treatment of the disease. If you experience some of the early warning signs of prostate cancer, then it is better to see your doctor without delay. Once your prostate cancer has been diagnosed and staged, depending on each case, treatment options include, surgery, Radiotherapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy depending on the stage.
The statistics show that in the recent times more men are choosing to stay out of treatment and monitor the disease progress, instead of immediately choosing the treatment method because of its slow progression.
Let us encourage males in our families and communities to test for prostate cancer once they reach the recommended age for testing and also seek the available information on prostate cancer. In doing this, we will be able to beat this cancer. At the Uganda Cancer Institute, screening for cancers is free every day of the week.
Use this opportunity to know your status since early detection accompanied with the right treatment guarantees cure.
As we come to the end of November, which is the Prostate Cancer Month, Let's join the fight together. As the theme for World Cancer Day this year states, "We Can, I can"!