Symptoms and diagnosis of prostate cancer
This page contains information about the symptoms and diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
- A slow flow of urine
- Trouble starting or stopping the flow
- Passing urine more often, especially at night
- Pain when passing urine
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Feeling of not emptying your bladder fully
Most prostate cancers are found when they are early, many are slow growing, and symptoms may not happen for many years if they happen at all. Remember that men with early prostate cancer are unlikely to have any symptoms.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
PSA blood test
A raised PSA can only indicate that a man may have a problem with his prostate gland that needs further investigation. Two out of three men with a raised PSA who do proceed to prosate biopsy do not have prostate cancer , and some men with prostate cancer do not have a raised PSA level.
Digital rectal exam (DRE)
Further tests for prostate cancer for many men are often done at Rapid Access Prostate Clinics, which are special clinics set up to reduce waiting times for prostate cancer testing.
Tests at the hospital
Trans-rectal ultrasound scan (TRUS)
It is important to contact your GP or attend your local A & E department if you experience the following symptoms after a prostate biopsy, even if you are still taking the antibiotics:
A high temperature
Burning sensation when passing urine
Difficulty passing urine
This test is a different way of measuring the PSA in the blood. It is useful for men who have a PSA between 4 and 10ng/ml and a normal DRE examination. The PSA is carried in the blood stream in two different ways: ‘free’ PSA, which is not bound to blood proteins, and PSA that can bind to blood proteins. The percentage of free PSA tends to be lower in men who may have prostate cancer. Results from this type of test can be useful in helping the urologist to decide how to treat men with a normal biopsy result. It is important to remember that other factors, like the size of the prostate, may influence the measurement. The doctor will take this into consideration too when deciding the next step.
It is also very useful to write down any questions or anxieties you might have for the doctor before your visit and to bring these questions with you.
What if the biopsy comes back normal?
What if the biopsy comes back with prostate cancer present?
Prostate Cancer Patient’s Charter
Questions to ask your doctor
- What tests do I need?
- Will the tests definitely show if I have cancer or not?
- How long will I have to wait before the tests?
- How is prostate cancer confirmed?
- Do I need treatment straight away? If not, how will you know when I
- should have treatment?
- If I need treatment, what are my treatment choices?
- How successful is this treatment for my cancer?
- If my treatment is not successful, can I still have other treatments?
- Do some treatments have more side-effects than others?
- Will I need hormone therapy and radiotherapy? If yes, for how long?
- Are the side-effects of treatment short or long term?
- will I have problems with urinary incontinence after my treatment?
- Will treatment affect my fertility? Will I develop erectile dysfunction?
- Why is follow-up so important? Why do I need regular blood tests?
- Bone scan
- CT scan
- MRI scan
Prostate cancer screening
Who should consider having a PSA test?
- Am I at risk of prostate cancer?
- Do I have any urinary or prostate problems?
- What would I choose to do if my PSA is raised?
- What would I do if I were diagnosed with early prostate cancer?