Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Cancer of the prostate is often slow-growing and symptoms may not occur for many years. Men with early prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, as these only occur when the cancer is large enough to put pressure on the urethra. The prostate can also become enlarged due to a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is non-cancerous.

The symptoms of benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate and prostate cancer are similar. They can include any of the following:

  • difficulty passing urine
  • passing urine more frequently than usual, especially at night
  • the feeling of not completely emptying your bladder
  • needing to rush to the toilet to pass urine
  • blood in the urine or semen (this is not common)
  • pain when passing urine or ejaculating (this is rare).

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to have them checked by your doctor.

Other symptoms

For a small number of men, the first symptom of prostate cancer may be pain in the back, hips or legs. This is because prostate cancer can sometimes spread to the bones. Although there are many other reasons for this kind of pain, it’s a good idea to let your GP know about any pain you haven’t experienced before.

‘I had all the symptoms – difficulty peeing, getting up in the night, bursting to go and then not being able to go. My GP sent me for a PSA test.’ Richard


Back to Understanding early prostate cancer

About prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It generally affects men over the age of 50.

The prostate gland

The prostate gland produces semen and a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA), needed for ejaculation.

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

How is it treated?

There are five main types of cancer treatment. You may receive one, or a combination of treatments, depending on your cancer type.