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What are the symptoms?

Early prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms. Even when prostate cancer is advanced at the time of diagnosis, there may be no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are often due to non-cancerous conditions, such as benign prostate hyperplasia.

Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer may include:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • frequent or sudden need to urinate
  • blood in the urine or semen
  • pain in bones, especially the lower back, hips or pelvis.

These are not always symptoms of prostate cancer, but you should see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)

A normal prostate gland may grow larger as you age – it is usually not cancer. This growth of the prostate is called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

BPH may press on the urethra and cause symptoms that affect how you urinate. This may include the stream of urine being weak; having to go to the toilet more often, especially at night; having to go urgently; trouble getting started; dribbling of urine after going; and the bladder not feeling empty. These are known as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and they can also occur in advanced prostate cancer. If you are experiencing LUTS, speak to your doctor.

Which health professionals will I see?

Your GP will usually arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests do not rule out cancer, you will usually be referred to a specialist, who may arrange further tests. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer specialist leading your care may be a urologist or radiation oncologist. In some cases, the main specialist may be a medical oncologist.

Your specialists may discuss treatment options with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. During and after treatment, you will see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care.

GPassists you with treatment decisions and works in partnership with your specialists in providing ongoing care; may monitor PSA levels and administer treatment
urologisttreats diseases of the male and female urinary systems and the male reproductive system; performs biopsies and surgery; requests scans
radiation oncologisttreats cancer by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy
medical oncologisttreats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy (systemic treatment)
endocrinologistdiagnoses, treats and manages hormonal disorders, including osteoporosis
cancer care coordinator/prostate cancer specialist nursecoordinates your care, liaises with other members of the MDT and supports you and your family throughout treatment; care may also be coordinated by a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
nurseadministers drugs and provides care, information and support throughout management or treatment
urology care coordinator/ continence nursesupports people with bladder and bowel management before and after cancer treatment
radiologistanalyses x-rays and scans; an interventional radiologist may also perform a biopsy guided by ultrasound or CT, and deliver some treatments
nuclear physician analyses bone scans and PET scans and delivers radionuclide therapies
pathologistexamines cells and tissue samples to determine the type and extent of the cancer
continence physiotherapistprovides exercises to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder and bowel control
exercise physiologist/ physiotherapistprescribes exercise to help people with medical conditions improve their overall health, fitness, strength and energy levels
occupational therapistassists in adapting your living and working environment to help you resume your usual activities after treatment
sexual health physician/sex therapisthelps you and your partner with sexuality issues before and after treatment; an erectile dysfunction specialist can give specific advice for erection problems
psychologist, counsellor, psychiatristhelp you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment; may also help with emotional issues affecting sexuality
social workerlinks you to support services and helps you with emotional, practical and financial issues

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed in March 2020 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Amy Hayden, Radiation Oncologist, Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, and Chair, Faculty of Radiation Genito-Urinary Group (FROGG), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, NSW; Prof Shomik Sengupta, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Head, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, and Visiting Urologist and Uro-Oncology Lead, Urology Department, Eastern Health, VIC; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological and Prostate Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ken Bezant, Consumer; Dr Marcus Dreosti, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, and Clinical Strategy Lead, Oncology Australia, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics and The University of Western Australia, WA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and HeadwayHealth Clinical and Consulting Psychology Services, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Graham Rees, Consumer; Kerry Santoro, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Matthew Starr, Consumer.