Prostate Cancer

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Men describe symptoms they experienced before diagnosis.

Men with early prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, as these usually only occur when the cancer gets big enough to put pressure on the urethra (the tube that carries the urine to the outside). In men over 50, the prostate gland can get larger due to a non-cancerous condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The symptoms of both benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer are very similar and it is often difficult to tell the difference between the two without further tests.

Over three-quarters of the men we interviewed consulted their GPs because of signs or symptoms, although a few men were diagnosed as the result of routine PSA tests (see 'The PSA test' and 'Ideas on PSA screening & tests on demand'). Before the diagnosis was made many of the men we talked with reported difficulty in passing urine, urgency, and passing urine more frequently than usual, particularly at night.

Some men gave detailed descriptions of their symptoms. In some cases symptoms were quite mild while in other cases symptoms were much more severe.

In a few instances men mentioned blood in their urine and one man said that the first sign that anything was wrong was excruciating back pain.

Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated January 2014.

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