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 locally-advanced prostate cancer

The prostate

The prostate gland produces semen. It is situated close to the tube, which is called the urethra. Urine and semen leave the body through the urethra.

What is cancer?

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

Cancer and cell types

Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways.

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.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.