Data from the Kampala Cancer registry (2014) presents prostate cancer incidence at 5.2%.
Dr Fred Okuku, an oncologist at the Uganda Cancer Institute, explains that this means five out of 100 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
Every man over 40 years is urged to regularly screen for prostate cancer because once the disease is detected early, it can be treated.
According to Dr Frank Asiimwe, a urologist at Mulago Hospital, the risk of getting prostate cancer rises rapidly after the age of 50.
However, Dr. James Kafeero, a clinical officer at the Uganda Cancer Institute, says many patients are diagnosed when it is too late and the disease is in advanced stages.
He blames this on the poor health-seeking behaviour among men who do not go for regular check-ups.
Signs and symptoms
According to Dr. Fred Okuku, an oncologist at the Uganda Cancer Institute, the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are silent but you can suspect it if a man starts to have difficulty in starting and stopping urination, weak and interrupted urine stream, painful sensation during urination and ejaculation, blood in urine or semen.
In the advanced stages, the cancer causes pain in the lower back, hip and upper thigh.
Dr Frank Asiimwe, a urologist at Mulago Hospital, Kampala says the risk factors
include age and family history of the disease.
If your first degree relative, such as a father, brother, paternal uncle has ever got
prostate cancer, you are also susceptible to it.
Unhealthy diet coupled with not exercising regularly also increases the risks of one developing prostate cancer.
Why you should care
Okuku says prostate cancer is a big burden. “At an individual level, the news of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is devastating. But also, the cancer may present with a number of physical impairments, making the patient unable to carry on with daily activities,” Okuku warns.
He explains that if prostate cancer is not treated early, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body and if it spreads to the spine, it may cause a stroke and severe pain and paralysis.
Prostate cancer also affects the urinary system, causing failure to pass urine, the reason why Matovu in his real life story narrates that it first presented with urinary obstruction.
Patients battling prostate cancer are advised to eat a lot of fruits
Impact on sexual performance
Okuku says prostate cancer affects men’s sexual activity, which subsequently affects their relationships or marriage.
He, however, says, one of the ways in which prostate cancer is treated is by removing the prostate and sometimes the testes, especially if the patient is elderly.
“When a man has prostate cancer, the male hormone, testosterone, enables it to progress. Since the testes play an important role of producing testosterone, their removal is one way of stopping the cancer from progressing,” Okuku explains.
“Since medication for prostate cancer is geared towards suppressing testosterone, it hinders the patient’s sexual function,” he adds.
Asiimwe says medicines that antagonise the production of testosterone are given depending on the stage at which the
cancer has been diagnosed.
If it is at an early stage, and medicine suppresses testosterone, the cancer gets starved and frozen because it feeds on the testosterone.
Robert Abeho, a nutritionist based in Gulu, says an elderly person battling prostate cancer is advised to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables because they provide the body with vitamins which act as antioxidants and help the body to get rid of toxins which are known to cause cancer.
Vitamins also increase the body’s immunity, making it strong enough to fight infections.
Prostate cancer patients are also encouraged to take plenty of fluids to enable them pass urine frequently.
“This is because cancer drugs are excreted through urine. If they are not excreted, they accumulate in the body, causing damage to the kidneys,” Abeho says.