Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2016

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 in men who have early-stage disease and no symptoms or signs, a process called screening. If prostate cancer is suspected based on a PSA test or DRE, 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

  • Blood in the urine

  • The urge to urinate frequently at night

  • Blood in the seminal fluid

  • New onset of erectile dysfunction

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

  • Discomfort when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate

Other noncancerous conditions, such as BPH or an enlarged prostate, cause similar 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

  • Swelling or edema in the legs or feet

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Change in bowel habits

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, 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 find 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 symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis, and it explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.