Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland is found only in males and it secretes fluid that protects sperm. Prostate cancer, therefore, is cells growing out of control in the prostate gland. The gland is found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. That is why it mostly affects older men (40 years and above).

There are different types of prostate cancers, however, almost all of them are adenocarcinomas. These are cancers that develop from the gland cell.

Globally, prostate cancer ranks as the second most frequently diagnosed cancer among men, with the highest mortality rates being in Asia and Africa. Here in Kenya, this is the most common male cancer. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data published in 2018 mortality rates in Kenya reached 0.86% of total deaths. This means that 40 people per 100,000 die of prostate cancer. Making Kenya number 26 in the world.

This high mortality rate would be greatly reduced if men would go for screening which remains the key strategy for early detection. However, lack of education, awareness and negative beliefs have been barriers leading to low screening rates.

At the early stages of prostate cancer, most men will not experience any symptoms. The symptoms however include:

  • Frequent urination especially at night
  • Difficulty in starting urination or holding back urine
  • The weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hip or upper thigh

The risk factors of getting prostate cancer are:

  • Having a family history – a father or a brother diagnosed with prostate cancer, particularly if it is at a relatively early age, increases the risk.
  • Having a family history of breast and ovarian cancer may also be associated with an inherited risk (BRCA gene mutation) of developing prostate cancer
  • High-fat diet. Studies show that men who eat a lot of dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting diagnosed with the disease.
  • Obesity. Some studies have also found that obese men may be at greater risk of having more advanced prostate cancer and of dying from it.
  • For reasons not yet determined, black people have a greater risk of prostate cancer than people of other races. For black people, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hip or upper thigh

You can, however, reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer once you:

  • Get screened early. The cancer is easier to treat if detected earlier.
  • Choose to eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits rather than over the counter supplements.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your weight in check. It is recommended to aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.

How do you know if you have prostate cancer?

There is no way of knowing if you have prostate cancer unless you visit your doctor. The prostate is not an organ that you can check yourself. You may want to speak with your doctor if you are over 50 (or over 45 if you have a family history of prostate cancer) or are a black man, even if you not present with any symptoms. Your doctor can give you more information or recommend further tests if necessary.

Faraja Cancer Support Trust offers a wide variety of sessions to help patients during this difficult journey. We have a prostate cancer support group which equips patients and caregivers with the knowledge of combating cancer. Also, interacting with other people tends to encourage the patients and caregivers as they feel that they are not alone in this journey. Visit Faraja for more information.


1. Ruth Gathoni Mbugua, Sherry Oluchina & Simon Karanja (2021). Prostate cancer awareness and screening among men in a rural community in Kenya: a cross-sectional study. African Journal of Urology.