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Symptoms of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms. Most prostate cancers tend to 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 wee from your bladder out of your body and is very unusual. This tube is called the urethra.

Diagram showing prostate gland

It is very unusual to have symptoms to do with passing urine. These are much more likely to be caused by your prostate gland becoming enlarged as you get older.  As part of  investigating the cause of urinary symptoms you might have a blood test called a PSA test. This is one of the tests doctors use to diagnose prostate cancer.

So, the following urinary symptoms are much more likely to be due to an enlargement of your prostate gland but can include:

  • passing urine more often
  • getting up during the night to empty your bladder (nocturia)
  • difficulty passing urine – this includes a weaker flow, not emptying your bladder completely and straining when starting to empty your bladder
  • urgency
  • blood in your urine or semen

What else can cause these symptoms

As men get older their prostate gland enlarges. It isn't normally cancer. But instead a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is when the prostate gland grows and presses on the urethra. The urethra is the tube that empties out urine from the bladder.

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. 

When to see your doctor

See your doctor if you have any of the changes described here.

The changes don't mean that you have cancer but it is important to get them checked so your doctor can help with you cope with them.