Prostate cancer

Updated 03 August 2018

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer develops slowly in the body. Often symptoms only become apparent in the later stages of the disease once the prostate is significantly enlarged. Annual prostate screenings are important to pick up abnormalities as early on as possible.

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

Read more:
Causes of prostate cancer
Diagnosing prostate cancer
Preventing prostate cancer

Sources: Health24; Cancer Research UK 


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