The Prostate Cancer Symptoms You Should Know

Kirstie Ganobsik

Kirstie Ganobsik

Medically reviewed by Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Updated on July 21, 2023

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While prostate cancer affects about 1 in 8 men, when it’s caught early, there's a 99% survival rate, according to That’s why early-stage detection is so important.

The higher the stage number, the more advanced the disease. Learn from the experts about the early symptoms of prostate cancer as well as signs of advanced-stage disease.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Stage 1 prostate cancer symptoms

Your prostate cancer is considered stage 1 if it hasn’t spread beyond your prostate gland, according to Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Health System. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland that’s located under a man's bladder. It produces seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.

Symptoms of prostate cancer might be nonexistent during this stage. That's because it generally grows slowly and only affects one part of the prostate, making it a challenge to detect without regular screenings. In fact, John Hopkins Medicine notes that about 85% of prostate cancer cases are found using early detection screenings prior to any symptoms developing.

“There are circumstances, or individual cases, where people might experience some changes in the way they're peeing. They might experience some ejaculatory changes, maybe some blood in their semen. But these are not rules per se,” said Dr. Ramdev Konijeti, director of genitourinary oncology at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center in San Diego.

According to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, symptoms during stage 1 prostate cancer may include:

  • Burning or pain during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in the semen or urine
  • Having a tough time starting and stopping urination
  • More frequent urination, especially at night
  • Erectile dysfunction

Stage 2 prostate cancer symptoms

As prostate cancer progresses, it will still stay within the borders of the prostate gland, according to Mount Sinai. It can grow more rapidly, however, and cells can show more abnormalities. This is known as stage 2 prostate cancer. At this stage, the cancer may be located on one or both sides of the gland.

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) notes that once a prostate cancer tumor grows large enough to put pressure on the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder out through the penis), symptoms can become more apparent.

Stage 2 prostate cancer symptoms may include:

  • Increased urgency to urinate
  • A sensation of having urine in the bladder even right after going
  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination
  • A weak flow of urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • More frequent urination, especially at night
  • Erectile dysfunction

Stage 3 prostate cancer symptoms

During stage 3, prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate gland into surrounding tissues and sometimes into the seminal glands, according to Scripps. At this stage, it hasn’t yet entered the lymph nodes or spread throughout the body, however.

This stage is also known as locally advanced prostate cancer.

The Urology Foundation and Scripps advise that men may experience advanced prostate cancer symptoms during this stage, such as:

  • Energy loss
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to urinate
  • Trouble starting urination
  • A weak flow of urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • More frequent urges to urinate, particularly at night
  • Erectile dysfunction

Stage 4 prostate cancer symptoms

Stage 4 prostate cancer is the most advanced stage of the disease, where cancer cells have spread to tissues and organs in other parts of the body, such as the bones, spine, pelvis, liver and bladder. This stage is sometimes called advanced, or metastatic, prostate cancer, according to Scripps.

You might notice more aggressive symptoms during this stage. The Mayo Clinic notes that in addition to symptoms seen in earlier stages, metastatic prostate cancer symptoms might show up in different ways, such as:

  • Leg swelling
  • Bone pain
  • General fatigue

“Typically, people feel absolutely no symptoms related to the condition until it spreads and it affects the bones and people can get unintentional weight loss. They can get pain in specific areas where it has spread,” Konijeti said.

“Those are the two very common things people can experience in very advanced stages of prostate cancer, as well as urinary problems, like blood in the urine or inability to empty themselves,” he added.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, at any stage prostate cancer symptoms are “rare,” and if they do show up it’s during these later stages.

That's why Konijeti suggested men with risk factors for prostate cancer have annual prostate screenings starting in their mid-40s.

“In people with absolutely no risk factors, no symptoms, they're just interested in screening for it, typically after the age of 50 we tell people they can screen for it every other year, at the most,” he advised.

SOURCE: Ramdev Konijeti, MD, director, genitourinary oncology, Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center, San Diego

What This Means for You

Prostate cancer may go undetected in its early stages but it is important for men to get screened and pay attention to changes in urination and erectile function.

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