What are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

Most people have no external symptoms of prostate cancer. The clearest signs are found by testing: a high PSA score and/or abnormal physical exam. When external symptoms do show, they're similar to the urinary issues that come with an enlarged prostate. More serious signs include rapid weight loss, pain the bones and/or the area around the prostate.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms_Jeffrey Wilde

Prostate cancer symptoms in men: What you need to know


Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men, but early detection can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes and quality of life. Understanding the symptoms of prostate cancer, both in early and advanced stages, is crucial for taking prompt action and receiving timely medical care. 

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there are usually no noticeable symptoms. According to a survey of the people ZERO serves, 94% of all patients received their prostate cancer diagnosis because of screening tests, not because they saw a doctor for specific symptoms.

Prostate cancer is almost always found through testing, such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or digital rectal exam (DRE). A higher-than-average PSA score for your age and/or an abnormal DRE can make a life-saving difference for those with an aggressive form of the disease.

Early symptoms of prostate cancer

In its early stages, prostate cancer often presents no noticeable symptoms, making regular screening essential for early detection. When early symptoms do occur, they may be subtle or mimic signs of other conditions.

The prostate is a male organ, located where the urinary and reproductive systems meet, and it grows in size as men grow older. These same biological systems show the signs of prostate cancer in those rare cases where external symptoms appear:

  • Urinary symptoms:
    • Strong urge to urinate immediately
    • Frequent nighttime urination
    • Pain and/or burning when urinating
    • Difficulty starting the urinary stream
    • A weak urinary stream once it starts
    • Dribbling after you’re finished
    • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Sexual symptoms:
    • Difficulty having an erection
    • Pain when ejaculating
    • Blood in the urine or semen

The best thing you can do to catch prostate cancer early is to have regular check-ups with your doctor, know your PSA score and risk factors (such as family history, race and ethnicity, military service, and age), and be screened once you're the appropriate age to get tested


Other prostate health issues with these symptoms

If you have concerns about the above symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. While they may not mean you stage I or stage II prostate cancer, there are other diseases that affect the prostate, such as:

  • Enlarged prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH)
  • Inflammation (prostatitis)
  • Overactive bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI)

The good news is that conditions like BPH are not associated with a higher chance of having prostate cancer. Learn more, including how these prostate-related diseases can be treated and managed improve your quality of life.

Advanced prostate cancer symptoms

When prostate cancer spreads to Stage III, it has moved to the tissue and bones nearby your prostate (hips, pelvis, lower spine, and ribs). In more advanced Stage IV prostate cancer, it has spread throughout your body. As a result, advanced prostate cancer symptoms tend to show in these systems of your body:

  • Sudden, unexpected weight loss
  • Nagging pain in the back, hips, genitals, or pelvis
  • Bone pain, especially in multiple areas around the prostate (spine, ribs, and pelvis)
  • Pain in lymph nodes throughout the body
  • Shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, fatigue, and dizziness
  • Pale skin caused by anemia
  • Blood in the urine and semen

As with early-stage disease, these symptoms can be caused by other diseases than prostate cancer. But that doesn't mean they should be taken lightly. Especially if you have several of these warning signs, you should treat it as a sign of a more urgent healthcare problem, and you should talk your doctor as soon as possible.

A man sitting with his doctor who is holding a clipboard

Concerned about your symptoms?

Recognizing the symptoms of prostate cancer, both in its early and advanced stages, is crucial for early detection and timely intervention. By staying informed, undergoing regular screenings, and promptly addressing any concerning symptoms, you can take control of your prostate health.

At ZERO, we are committed to supporting men and families affected by prostate cancer. If you have any questions or are concerned about having prostate cancer, we recommend you seek help and undergo screening. Check out our free screening locations near you.

More for you

Learn more about the PSA test and the most reliable ways to detect prostate cancer early (it could save your life), along with the health conditions that more frequently cause the symptoms in this page.