Prostate cancer is a very slow-growing cancer, and most often, in its early stages, causes no symptoms at all.
Prostate cancer often starts up in the outer part of the prostate and it is only when a tumour becomes sufficiently large that it affects urine flow through the urethra, which goes through the centre of the prostate. This is why early detection is so important. By the time symptoms of prostate cancer become apparent, the cancer is often already fairly advanced, and often not curable.
Symptoms can sometimes develop over a number of years.
The symptoms of prostate cancer can be similar to those experienced by men with an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia). In both cases, pressure on or obstruction of the urethra can cause the following symptoms:
- Difficulty in urinating
- Sudden urgency and frequency in urinating
- Blood in the urine (This is not always visible to the naked eye, but can be determined by a urine test. This is not a common symptom)
- Poor stream when urinating/also stop-start urination
- Pain when passing urine
- Needing to get up frequently in the night to urinate
Once the cancer has spread to beyond the confines of the prostate itself it is known as metastatic cancer. It most often spreads to the bony skeleton and the lymph glands of the pelvis. The following symptoms could then become apparent:
- Pain in the bones of the back and pelvis
- Enlarged lymph glands of the pelvis
- Swelling of the legs
- Weight loss
- General fatigue
- Difficulty in getting an erection (where difficulty was not experienced before)
- Bone fractures in the pelvic area
- Obstruction of the urethra, which can lead to kidney failure
Causes of prostate cancer
Diagnosing prostate cancer
Preventing prostate cancer
Sources: Health24; Cancer Research UK