The number of people suffering from prostate cancer has lately been on the rise, the head of Hospital Management in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Bonaventure Nizeyimana, disclosed yesterday.
Although he did not release the current figure of people suffering from the disease, he said that measures are underway to compile up-to-date statistics.
The latest data from Prostate Cancer Africa indicates that about 100 Rwandan men would probably be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, with many dying of the disease.
“People get to know about it at its late stage, which makes it difficult to know the exact figures,” said Dr. Nizeyimana.
According to medics, prostate cancer starts in the prostate, a walnut sized gland found below the bladder.
If it is not treated, prostate cancer follows a natural course, starting as a tiny group of cancer cells that can grow into a full-blown tumor.
Only men can get prostate cancer. Women cannot get it, because they do not have a prostate. If a man’s father, grandfather, uncle or brother has or had prostate cancer, then he is at greater risk.
Nizeyimana said that the Ministry of Health has drawn up a plan to increase awareness on prostate cancer for people to visit doctors frequently for checkups.
“We also need to train doctors practicing in district hospitals and health centres how to diagnose this disease,” he added.
He, however, added that cases reported at an early stage can be treated in Rwanda, while those reported late are normally referred to specialised hospitals in Uganda and India.
“There are situations when we need radiation therapy to kill the cancer which we don’t have yet. That is when we fly the patient out of the country to countries that have the expertise,” said Dr. Nizeyimana.
In its earliest and most curable stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms at all and according to medics, the key to the effective management of the cancer is early detection, using regular physical exams and simple blood tests.
According to medics, symptoms of prostate cancer include delayed or slowed start of urinary stream, dribbling or leakage of urine, most often after urinating, slow urinary stream, straining when urinating, or not being able to empty out all of the urine blood in the urine or semen.
Others are bone pain or tenderness, most often in the lower back and pelvic bones among others.