October is cancer awareness month in Uganda and we take this opportunity to acquaint ourselves with a disease that kills many people per year.

You might have noticed that there are increased cancer deaths. Experts say this is as a result of change in lifestyle; more smoking, drinking and poor eating habits. So, what cancer is a Ugandan most likely to suffer from?

Burkitt’s Lyphoma

Information from the Uganda Cancer Institute shows that Burkitt’s Lyphoma is the commonest childhood cancer.

Its symptoms, according to Dr Joyce Balaggade of the Uganda Cancer institute, include swelling of the jaw which may be preceded by loosening of teeth. Swelling of the eye coupled with pus production is another symptom. Burkitt’s Lyphoma is curable.

Kaposi Sarcoma

Dr Abrahams Omoding, an oncologist at the institute says Kaposi Sarcoma is the commonest adulthood cancer and it is as a result of HIV infections.

It is more common amongst women than men. It is characterized by purple and black lesions on the skin. While it is incurable, it can be treated and contained and the patient can live with it for many years, according to Dr Omoding.

Testicular cancer

For men, Omoding says, testicular cancer is the commonest.

It presents with a painless lump in the testicles, pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum, enlargement of the testicles, feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, dull ache in the lower abdomen, back or groin and collection of fluid in the scrotum. It is advised that pubescent boys undertake testicular checks each month. It is 100% curable.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is also common amongst Ugandan men according to Dr Omoding and recently, it has started affecting young men and those between the ages of 40 and 50.

The cancer, according to about.com, presents with an increase in frequency of urination, difficulty in starting the urine stream and less common symptoms like blood in urine and semen, bone pain especially in the lower back, hips or ribs and loss of bladder control. It is curable.

Cervical and breast cancer

Cervical and breast cancer are the commonest among women in Uganda. For cervical, symptom vary from woman to woman and include abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding between periods or after sex and douching), pelvic pain unassociated with menstrual periods or physical activity, vaginal discharge which may have an odour and pain during sexual intercourse.

In its early stages, no symptoms may present. That is why it is important for women to have regular pap smears. Cervical cancer is 100% curable. Breast cancer symptoms are a lump in the breast, swelling in the armpit, nipple discharge and nipple pain.

According to information on about.com, in the early stages, breast cancer may be hard to detect by a breast self-examination (which should be done every after a girl’s menstrual period) because lumps may be small. A mammogram will detect the early cancer and when treated, it is curable.

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