Researchers have projected a 33 percent increase in prostate cancer cases in Uganda over the next 15 years, according to a study by the Uganda Cancer Institute and South Korea’s National Cancer Centre.
The study, led by Judith Asasira in 2022, revealed that the age-standardized incidence rate (ASR) of prostate cancer is estimated to rise from 41.6 per 100,000 men in 2015 to 60.5 per 100,000 men by 2030. This increase is attributed to changes in risk factors and population growth.
Prostate cancer risk factors, as identified by Dr. Fred Okuku, a consultant at the Uganda Cancer Institute, include being aged 45 years and above, a family history of cancer, African ethnicity, lack of physical exercise, alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet.
In 2020, prostate cancer claimed 1,329 lives in Uganda, and 2,375 individuals were diagnosed with the disease, making it the second most common cancer among men, following Kaposi sarcoma. Among all types of cancers in Uganda, prostate cancer ranks as the seventh leading cause of death.
Rev Canon Garshom Twinamatsiko, a 73-year-old resident of Rukungiri, shared his experience with prostate cancer. He was initially treated for an enlarged prostate in 2013 but wasn’t diagnosed with cancer until 2020. Late diagnosis and advanced cancer cases contribute to a low survival rate of around 20 percent at the Uganda Cancer Institute.
Common symptoms of prostate cancer include increased urination frequency, heightened urgency to urinate, painful urination, and erectile dysfunction. Additionally, difficulty accessing screening and diagnosis services is a significant barrier in the fight against prostate cancer in Uganda.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exams (DRE) are the available screening tests for prostate cancer in Uganda. Dr. Okuku emphasized the importance of seeking medical attention if any suspicious symptoms arise.
There are four stages of prostate cancer, ranging from localized cancer within the prostate to cancer that has spread beyond its covering. Prevention measures include adopting a healthy diet, reducing red meat and sugary drink consumption, lowering salt intake, moderating alcohol consumption, and increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Okuku also mentioned the significance of diet and lifestyle in prostate cancer prevention, pointing to the positive impact of lycopene-rich foods, such as tomatoes, on reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
Research has not shown a clear link between masturbation frequency and prostate cancer risk, dispelling any misconceptions related to this aspect of sexual activity.