Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Lineagotica Editorial Board, 03/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Often, early-stage prostate cancer has no symptoms or signs. It is usually found through a PSA test or DRE, a process called screening. If a PSA test or DRE indicates that prostate cancer may be present, more monitoring and testing is needed to diagnose prostate cancer. When prostate cancer does cause symptoms or signs, it is usually diagnosed in a later stage. These symptoms and signs may include:  

  • Frequent urination

  • Weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder

  • The urge to urinate frequently at night

  • Blood in the urine

  • Blood in the seminal fluid

  • New onset of erectile dysfunction

  • Pain or burning during urination, which is much less common

  • Discomfort or pain when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate

Sometimes men with prostate cancer do not have any of these changes. Other noncancerous conditions of the prostate, such as BPH or an enlarged prostate, can cause similar symptoms. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer. Urinary symptoms also can be caused by an infection of the bladder or other conditions.

If cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland, a man may experience:

  • Pain in the back, hips, thighs, shoulders, or other bones

  • Swelling or fluid buildup in the legs or feet

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Change in bowel habits

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.