Prostate cancer does not cause symptoms in the early stages. Most prostate cancers start in the outer part of the prostate gland. This means that to cause symptoms, the cancer needs to be big enough to press on the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. This is called urethra.
Urinary symptoms such as difficulty passing urine are rarely caused by prostate cancer. They are much more likely to be caused by a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
If prostate cancer has already spread to other parts of the body (advanced or metastatic prostate cancer), it can cause symptoms such as:
- back or bone pain that doesn’t go away with rest
- weight loss for no reason
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
As men get older their prostate gland enlarges. This is a common condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As the prostate gland enlarges, it can press on the urethra and bladder. This can affect how you pass urine and cause symptoms such as:
- passing urine more often during the day or night (nocturia)
- difficulty passing urine – this includes a weaker flow, not emptying your bladder completely and straining when starting to empty your bladder
- urgency to pass urine
BPH does not develop into cancer. But you can have an enlarged prostate at the same time as having areas in the prostate gland that contain cancer cells.
It’s important to see your GP if you have symptoms of BPH. The symptoms don't mean that you have prostate cancer, but it is important to get them checked. As part of investigating the cause of the symptoms, you might have a blood test called a PSA test. This is one of the tests doctors use to help diagnose prostate cancer.