Approximately one in nine men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives, though it is more common in older adults. Eighty percent of men over 80 have cancer cells in their prostate. Research indicates African Americans face a higher risk than other ethnicities. In its early stages, prostate cancer often goes unnoticed because the symptoms are mild or easily attributed to other causes. Early detection increases the likelihood of successful treatment, however.

Interrupted Urination

There are many benign reasons for interrupted flow of urination. In particular, during the transition from middle age to old age, the prostate gland often becomes enlarged, medically known as prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Although an enlarged prostate is not comfortable, it is not life-threatening in and of itself but can cause symptoms similar to those of prostate cancer.


Urge To Urinate Frequently

An inability to urinate when the need arises or an urge to urinate more frequently can also point to prostate cancer or other problems with this organ. Men who experience this symptom may also find that after they relieve themselves, they need to go again due to incomplete voiding of the bladder. If they are over the age of fifty, enlarged prostate is the most likely cause. However, this is also a symptom of prostate cancer.


Frequent Nighttime Urination and Bowel Movements

If a man finds that he needs to get up for the bathroom many times each night, he should consult a doctor. This mostly becomes a concern if it happens on a regular basis. While irregular bowel movements and frequent nighttime urination may be part of aging, they are also signs of prostate cancer.


Pain While Urinating

Painful urination is one of the most recognizable signs of a prostate condition or cancer, though urinary tract infections can also cause this symptom, as can dehydration. Other causes of painful urination include sexually transmitted infections and an enlarged prostate. Painful urination that does not go away in a few days should be medically investigated.


Blood in the Urine

Blood in urine can indicate kidney damage and may be a symptom of prostate cancer, excretory diseases, kidney stones, or urinary tract infections. Certain sexually transmitted diseases also present with this symptom. Men may notice their urine is pink, red, or tea-colored, but in some cases, blood is present but not visible to the naked eye.


Constipation and Intestinal Distress

In many cases, constipation can be due to an unbalanced diet rather than a life-threatening illness. However, chronic constipation or changes in bowel habits can be symptoms of prostate cancer and should always be mentioned to a doctor. People who regularly experience constipation are more likely to develop prostate gland problems because constipation places pressure on the gland.


Pain in the Lower Back

A deep ache in the lower back that continues for a long time, or one that comes and goes chronically, can be a symptom of prostate cancer. Lower back aches have many causes, but if it seems to originate deep inside the body, it could point to advanced prostate cancer that has spread to the bones of the lower back.


Pain Around the Upper Thighs

Although the upper thighs are not an obvious location for symptoms of prostate cancer, pain in this region can indicate a problem. Soreness or sharp pain at the groin, where the thighs meet the pelvis, should be investigated by a doctor if the cause is not easily attributed to exercise or injury. As with the low back, people often describe this symptom as a consistent, deep ache.


Pain in the Hips

Deep, aching pain in the hip is generally one of the first noticeable signs of prostate cancer. The likelihood that a prostate issue is the cause of such pain increases as men grow older. Often, the pain is the result of cancer that spread to the hip bones.


Urinary Incontinence

While it might be the result of an enlarged prostate, if other symptoms of prostate cancer accompany incontinence, prostate cancer could be the cause. Less control over the bladder is common as people age, but the prostate gland's proximity to the urethra can interfere with normal muscle contraction within the urinary system.


Erectile Dysfunction

Some research shows that the risk of prostate cancer is significantly higher in men with erectile dysfunction. A recent study in Taiwan found that study participants with erectile dysfunction have about a 1.24-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer than those without.

This data indicates that it may be beneficial to do prostate cancer screenings for men who come to the doctor with erectile dysfunction, even if they are younger or older than the typical screening age.

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Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

Losing weight without trying can be a sign of prostate cancer, although some research has found that this is not necessarily the case. Weight loss may be more common in late-stage prostate cancer than in undiagnosed cases.

A loss of appetite is common for people with cancer, and the causes are complex. Some medications may help improve appetite, though more research is needed.

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Fatigue is a common complaint for people with prostate cancer, and it has many causes. Sleep disturbances, depression, anemia, and pain can all contribute. Specific treatments can cause fatigue, too, particularly opioids for cancer pain and androgen deprivation therapy.

Patients undergoing external beam radiation therapy may experience increased urination and diarrhea, which can interrupt sleep and lead to more fatigue.

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Swelling in the Leg or Pelvic Area

Swelling in the leg or pelvic area that begins as a hard lump and grows slowly may be a sign that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Generally, lymph nodes adjacent to the primary tumor show the first site of metastases; for prostate cancer, this may be the femoral or inguinal lymph nodes, which run along the top of the inner thigh next to the groin.

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Bone Pain

Bone pain may cause discomfort in the upper thighs, lower back, or hip. Advanced prostate cancer often spreads to the bone; one study found that about 90 percent of men who died with metastasized prostate cancer had bone metastases. Prostate cancer cells tend to invade the ribs, spine, and pelvis, which have more red marrow than other bones.

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Numbness in the Hips, Legs, or Feet

Metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) is usually an oncological emergency. It occurs when cancer metastasizes to the spine and happens in about 19 percent of patients with prostate cancer. MSCC can cause both pain and numbness. Pain can increase at night when lying down or when straining and can affect any part of the spine, including near the neck and shoulders.

Numbness can occur in the hips, legs, or feet, causing weakness, difficulty walking, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Prostate tumors pressing on the spinal cord can cause similar symptoms.

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Rectal Pain and Discomfort

Prostate cancer can occasionally lead to rectal pain and discomfort, which may be discomforting for those experiencing this symptom. The proximity of the prostate gland to the rectum can result in sensations of pressure, fullness, or even pain in the rectal area if the prostate swells. This discomfort may intensify during bowel movements or when sitting for extended periods. While rectal pain is not always a definitive sign of prostate cancer, continual pain in this area should not be ignored. Sometimes, similar symptoms can be associated with benign conditions such as hemorrhoids or prostatitis, but it's important to check whether there's something more serious going on.

Man suffering on sofa at home


Painful Ejaculation

Painful ejaculation, medically known as dyspareunia, can be a distressing symptom for men and their partners. Prostate cancer, especially when it affects the surrounding tissues, can lead to this uncomfortable experience during sexual activity. The pain may vary in intensity and can be a source of emotional and physical stress. While other factors like infections or inflammation can also cause painful ejaculation, any ongoing persistence of this symptom calls for evaluation by a healthcare provider.

Prostate cancer concept. Inflammation of the premature ejaculation, erection problems, bladder.


Unexplained Bone Fractures

As prostate cancer progresses and metastasizes to the bones, it can weaken the skeletal structure, leading to the risk of unexplained bone fractures. Areas such as the spine, hips, or legs are particularly susceptible. Bone fractures linked to prostate cancer can be sudden and painful, making them a significant cause for concern. These fractures are typically associated with advanced stages of prostate cancer and show the importance of prompt treatment. If you or a loved one experiences unexplained bone fractures, consult a healthcare provider who can assess the situation and create a suitable treatment plan. Recognizing and addressing these fractures promptly is crucial for the well-being of prostate cancer patients.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Prostate cancer can lead to a range of symptoms, including occasional nausea and vomiting. These gastrointestinal symptoms can occur because of the effects of prostate cancer can have on the body. Treatments for the cancer or complications arising from it, such as bowel obstruction, can also cause these symptoms. While nausea and vomiting are nonspecific symptoms associated with various medical conditions, any continued and unexplained presence of them should prompt a thorough evaluation, which would consider the patient's medical history, treatments, and other accompanying signs.

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