Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms, but there are some things that may mean you’re more likely to get prostate cancer. You might hear these described as risk factors. Even if you don’t have any of the symptoms that we talk about below, speak to your GP about prostate cancer if:
- you are aged 50 or over
- your father or brother has had prostate cancer
- you are black
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms.
One reason for this is the way the cancer grows. You’ll usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through (the urethra) and presses against it, changing the way you urinate (pee). But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesn’t often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.
If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem. But it’s still a good idea to get it checked out.
Possible changes include:
- difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
- a weak flow when you urinate
- a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
- dribbling urine after you finish urinating
- needing to urinate more often, especially at night
- a sudden urge to urinate – you may sometimes leak before you get to the toilet
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate (locally advanced prostate cancer) or spreads to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer), it can cause other symptoms, including:
- back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
- problems getting or keeping an erection
- blood in the urine or semen
- unexplained weight loss
These symptoms can also be caused by other things that aren’t prostate cancer, like prostatitis (infection and swelling of the prostate), diabetes, or some medicines. But it’s still a good idea to get any symptoms checked out by your GP so they can find out what’s causing them and make sure you get the right treatment if you need it.
There is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer. There are a few tests that your GP can do to find out if you have a prostate problem. The main tests include:
- a urine test to rule out a urine infection
- a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test
- a digital rectal examination (DRE)
Before you have these tests, your GP should explain what they involve and talk you through the advantages and disadvantages. They can help you understand more about prostate cancer and your own risk of getting it. It’s up to you whether you have the tests, so make sure you’ve got all the information you need, and give yourself time to think it through.
After you’ve had the tests, your GP will talk through the results with you. If they think you may have a prostate problem, they’ll make an appointment for you to see a specialist at a hospital.
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