Signs and symptoms

Goutte tombant du robinet illustrant les symptômes urinaires du cancer de la prostate

Overview

Bien connaitre ses options pour prendre une décision éclairée - Homme assis mains derrière le cou pensant aux choix de traitements de son cancer de la prostate

A « silent » cancer

Prostate cancer is often not accompanied by any symptoms; it is said to be « silent ». It is often discovered by chance, following a blood test or during a routine examination of the prostate. In this case, the doctor will have performed a rectal examination, noted induration, and will have sounded the alarm. This hardening is the most common clinical sign.

When the urethra is compressed there are similar symptoms

Symptoms begin to appear as the tumor increases and puts pressure on the urethra or when as the cancer advances. The symptoms are the same as for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) because as the prostate grows older it increases in volume and compresses the urethra. Prostatitis can also cause symptoms similar to prostate cancer. However, as mentioned earlier, the majority of patients with prostate cancer will have no clinical symptoms.

After the age of 40, it is important that men make sure not to confuse BPH, prostatitis and prostate cancer. A doctor’s exam becomes more important to have peace of mind.

BPH or Enlarged Prostate

Illustration d’une hbp

The most common signs and symptoms

In the early stages of, there are no signs and symptoms. These appear when the enlarged prostate exerts pressure on the urethra and bladder. This can reduce the diameter of the urethra (compressing it) or irritating the bladder, which can cause changes in urinary habits and difficulty urinating. In some patients, symptoms may appear with minimal enlargement of the prostate.

BPH can cause the following symptoms:

  • More frequent urination (urinary frequency), especially at night
  • A strong or sudden urge to urinate (urinary urgency)
  • Difficulty starting or stopping the urine stream (called straining)
  • Weak or slow urine stream
  • Interrupted urine flow
  • Being unable to empty the bladder completely
  • Difficulty controlling the bladder (leaks)
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Difficult or painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen (rare)

Prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate

Illustration d’une prostatite

The most common signs and symptoms

Prostatitis can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary greatly from man to man. They may be similar to those caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer. On the other hand it differ in that there is an acute pain present in the pelvic area accompanied by a high fever and chills.

Prostatitis can be caused by an acute urinary tract infection (bacterial prostatitis) or by chronic inflammation / chronic sensitivity.

Prostatitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • More frequent urination (urinary frequency), especially at night
  • A strong or sudden urge to urinate (urinary urgency)
  • Difficulty starting or stopping the urine stream (called straining)
  • Weak or slow urine stream
  • Interrupted urine flow
  • Being unable to empty the bladder completely
  • Difficulty controlling the bladder (leaks)
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Difficult or painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen (rare)
  • Pain in the pelvis area (genitals, groin, lower abdomen or lower back)
  • Fever and chills if prostatitis is acute
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

BPH and prostatitis do not equal prostate cancer. They are among the most common prostate diseases.

Localized cancer

Signs and symptoms of a localized cancer

stade 1 cancer prostate

It is quite common that because of its generally slow growth, especially in its early stages, prostate cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms. The onset of symptoms is linked to the growing size of the tumour developing in the tissues and surrounding organs.

The most common signs and symptoms

  • More frequent urination (urinary frequency), especially at night
  • A strong or sudden urge to urinate (urinary urgency)
  • Difficulty starting or stopping the urine stream (called straining)
  • Weak or slow urine stream
  • Interrupted urine flow
  • Being unable to empty the bladder completely
  • Difficulty controlling the bladder (leaks)
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Difficult or painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen (rare)

Advanced cancer

Signs and symptoms of advanced cancer

stade 4 cancer prostate

Signs and symptoms when spreading outside the prostate

After the cancer begins to grow in the prostate, it spreads to the pelvic lymph nodes. (These are not the lymph nodes in the groin, which are perceptible to the touch. The pelvic lymph nodes are located deep in the abdomen next to the prostate and cannot be seen or felt.) This is known as nodal metastasis. Nodal metastasis is not painful, although it sometimes causes edema (swelling) of the feet and ankles due to blocked circulation in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels that run along the veins and arteries transporting lymphatic fluid to fight infections.

In more advanced stages of the disease, the cancerous cells usually migrate to the bones, particularly those of the pelvis and spinal column. This is known as bone metastasis.

If the metastases are large enough, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Pain in the lower back or hips
  • Numbness or paralysis of the lower limbs (at the spinal level, metastases can compress the spinal cord)
  • Edema (swelling) of the feet and ankles (lymph node metastases can cause poor lymphatic drainage of the lower limbs
  • Weight loss and general loss of condition (feeling of unwellness)
  • Constant fatigue and pallor (bone metastases can cause anemia)

Tests your doctor will administer based on these signs

If you have any unusual symptoms, it is important to consult your doctor to determine its cause. The doctor may then suggest you undergo a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a rectal exam.

If your doctor believes that other tests should be done to confirm or deny that you have a prostate disorder, he will refer you to an urologist. The urologist will undoubtedly have you retake some of the tests that you have previously undergone. You may be asked to do another PSA test in the near future to see if your PSA rate increases over time and/or to confirm a temporary increase. Depending on the results, together you will decide on your future course of action, your treatment options, and resulting side effects.

We are here for you

You have questions or concerns? Don’t hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2873 to discuss with one of our nurses specialized in uro-oncology. They are there to listen, support and answer your questions, those of your family or your loved ones. It’s simple and free, like all of our other services.

Also take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease, our expert lectures and webinars, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you, our events and ways to get involve to advance the cause.

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Sources and references

Last medical and editorial review: July 2019
Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved – 2019

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