If you’ve recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be asking yourself if there were warning signs or symptoms you should have noticed earlier. So what are the warning signs or symptoms of prostate cancer?
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:
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
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.
*PSA: Prostate-Specific Antigen
*DRE: Digital Rectal Exam
*BPH: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia