Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2013

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Often, prostate cancer is found through a PSA test or DRE (see the Risk Factors and Prevention section) in men who have early-stage disease and no symptoms or signs. If prostate cancer is suspected based on a PSA test or DRE, more monitoring and testing is needed to diagnose prostate cancer (see the Diagnosis section for more information). When prostate cancer does cause symptoms or signs, it is usually diagnosed in a later stage (see the Stages section for details). These symptoms and signs may include:  

  • Frequent urination
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder
  • Blood in the urine
  • The urge to urinate frequently at night
  • Blood in the seminal fluid
  • Pain or burning during urination (much less common)
  • Discomfort when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate

Other noncancerous conditions cause these same symptoms. For instance, men who have a noncancerous condition called BPH or an enlarged prostate also have these symptoms. Urinary symptoms also can be caused by an infection or other conditions. In addition, sometimes men with prostate cancer do not have any of these symptoms.

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

  • Pain in the back, hips, thighs, shoulders, or other bones
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects 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 symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.