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Patient discussing his prostate cancer symptoms

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers that men face, second only to skin cancer. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra, and it’s responsible for creating fluid for semen. While prostate cancer rarely produces obvious symptoms in its early stages, there are a few signs that may signal something is wrong in the prostate.

Early warning signs and early symptoms of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer symptoms tend to develop in the later stages of the condition. However, the following symptoms can signal a possible problem with the prostate gland:

  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Pain or burning with urination or ejaculation
  • Problems starting or stopping a stream of urine

Common prostate cancer signs and symptoms

It is important to note that the signs of prostate cancer are also shared by many other less serious conditions. If you are displaying one or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. Similarly, a man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer may not have any of these symptoms. With that in mind, here are some additional symptoms you might feel or see with prostate cancer:

What does prostate cancer feel like?

With prostate cancer, you might feel an unusually weak urine flow and unexplained pain around the prostate while sitting. If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, you may experience swelling in the lower body, abnormal bowel or urinary habits, unexplained weight loss or back, hip or bone pain.

What does prostate cancer look like?

There typically are not visible signs of early stages of prostate cancer—you likely won’t see a lump or any changes to your skin as you might with other types of cancers. However, as the cancer progresses, you may see things like blood in your urine or semen, or notice the other symptoms listed below.

Advanced prostate cancer signs and symptoms

As it progresses to its later stages, prostate cancer may cause more pronounced symptoms, such as:

  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Weakened, decreased or interrupted flow of urine
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain in the pelvic area, lower back, hips or thighs
  • Sudden difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
  • Bone pain that doesn’t go away or leads to fractures

These prostate cancer symptoms typically develop when a cancerous growth or an enlarged prostate constrains the urethra. However, because these symptoms may also be caused by a noncancerous condition (such as a urinary tract infection) physicians will order one or more diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. If a physician suspects cancer, he or she may recommend a digital rectal exam (DRE) to assess the size of a patient’s prostate gland, or order a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to check for unusually high levels of the protein in a patient’s blood.

How Moffitt Cancer Center approaches prostate cancer

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we provide a number of services for prostate cancer. At our Genitourinary Oncology Clinic, we administer several diagnostic exams to help detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages. If a patient’s symptoms are the result of a cancerous growth, we will create an individualized treatment plan based on the consensus of our multispecialty prostate cancer tumor board. As the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, we are proud to be at the cutting edge of prostate cancer treatment. We have a robust clinical trials program that offers our patients promising new treatments that are not available elsewhere.

Contact Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online to speak to one of our oncologists about your symptoms or to seek treatment for prostate cancer. We don’t require referrals.

check mark symbol Medically reviewed by Monica Chatwal, MD, Genitourinary Oncology Program


Prostate Cancer – Early-Stage: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment - Urology Care Foundation
Prostate Cancer Information and Overview
Prostate Cancer | CDC