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Prostate cancer signs and symptoms

Prostate cancer often grows slowly. Years might pass before some men notice any signs or symptoms – and some men experience no symptoms at all. Here you’ll find out about the most common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, and learn more about early screening and detection.

Prostate cancer signs and symptoms

Prostate cancer is often a slow-growing disease. It’s commonly found in older men, but can affect younger men as well. Some men can go years without noticing any signs or symptoms, especially in the early stages. Others may notice nothing at all.

Its slow growth, and the fact that it may be hard to notice, is why early detection is key. Understanding your risk of prostate cancer, regular screenings like PSA tests, knowing the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, and talking to your doctor can all make a life-saving difference.

Prostate cancer symptoms (when there are noticeable symptoms) may include difficulty when urinating, things not feeling right during sex (such as trouble getting hard), aches or pains in your hips or pelvis, and bloody urine or semen. Be mindful that noticing symptoms does not automatically mean you have prostate cancer. What it does mean, however, is that it’s high time you check in with your doctor.

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When to see your doctor about prostate cancer?

If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it’s high time to book a check-up with your doctor. These issues may suggest something going on with your prostate (or the surrounding area) needs sorting out.

Difficulty when urinating. Discomfort or difficulty when urinating. Often this feels like a weak urine flow, the need to go more often than usual, or needing to strain while peeing.

Trouble fully emptying the bladder. The feeling that your bladder isn’t fully empty after urination. Can also take the form of ‘dribbling’ afterwards.

Painor burning when urinating. Pain, discomfort, or a burning sensation during urination. This is especially important if it happens regularly.

Blood in urine or semen. Blood in your urine is known as hematuria. Blood in semen is called hematospermia. If either happen, book in with your doctor right way. These symptoms can be caused by something other than prostate cancer, so a proper medical evaluation is needed.

What’s a PSA test? What are PSA levels?

PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is a protein. It’s produced by the prostate gland and is found in your blood.

A PSA test is a routine blood test that measures the prostate-specific antigen protein in the bloodstream. Higher PSA levels could mean a range of conditions – including prostate cancer.

It's important to note that an elevated PSA level does not definitely mean someone has prostate cancer. In fact, age, prostate size, medications, infections, and other factors can affect PSA levels in a test. Your doctor is the best person to help you understand what your PSA level means.

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What are other prostate conditions?

The prostate is like any other organ in your body, in that it can change over time. Things can happen to it that don’t feel so good, but don’t automatically mean prostate cancer. Here are two of the most common prostate conditions:

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH refers to a prostate that has grown larger, but that is not cancerous. BPH can cause urinary symptoms quite similar to those of prostate cancer, like difficulty with (or increased) urination. However, BPH is not prostate cancer – it’s a distinctly different condition. One of the most common questions that doctors get asked is: does an enlarged prostate mean prostate cancer? If the condition turns out to be BPH, then the answer is no. However, BPH can still be a serious and unpleasant condition, so listen to your doctor’s advice on how to manage it.


Prostatitis is a condition when the prostate gland is inflamed. Like BPH, prostatitis symptoms are similar to those of prostate cancer. These might include pain or discomfort in the prostate area (near your junk or lower back) and trouble urinating. It’s also been known to cause flu-like symptoms. Prostatitis is usually caused by infection or inflammation. Prostatitis that causes pain in your prostate does not automatically mean prostate cancer. However, it can still be a serious condition, so again, listen to your doctor on how to manage it.



If you have a prostate, then your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. However, that doesn't mean prostate cancer is limited to the older generation. So if you’re 50 or older, start talking to your doctor about your risk. Just be aware that the recommended age at which to have those conversations varies by country.



Prostate cancer is more common in Black men and men with African ancestry. The reasons still aren’t fully understood, but it’s likely due to a bunch of different genetic and biological factors. So if you’re Black or have African ancestry, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer when you’re 40. Again, the recommended age varies by country.

Family history


The genes from our parents and relatives play a part in prostate cancer risk. Your risk is higher if there’s a father, brother or uncle who had prostate cancer. It’s also higher if there’s a mother or sister who had breast or ovarian cancer. So if there’s a family history like this, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer when you’re 40. Once more, the recommended age varies by country.