Possible Signs of Prostate Cancer

What Everyone Should Know

Prostate Exam NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Dr. E. Douglas Whitehead conducts a prostate examination on a patient February 13, 1991 at his office in New York City.
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Most men today are diagnosed before they begin to show any signs of prostate cancer.

As a point of clarification, signs of prostate cancer are those things that others, such as your doctor, can see or measure that might point to the disease. Symptoms, on the other hand, are those things only you can feel (such as pain, the need to use the bathroom, etc.) and must report to others.

Possible Signs of Prostate Cancer

  • An irregular contour to the prostate: The prostate can be examined during a digital rectal exam and, if found to be irregular or "bumpy," is considered to be abnormal.
  • An elevated PSA level: While there are many causes of an elevated PSA level that are not cancer, it remains one of the possible causes until ruled out. Most men today are first diagnosed with prostate cancer after being found to have an elevated PSA.
  • A bladder that is enlarged and distended with urine: This can sometimes be felt on a physical exam of the abdomen, but can be easily seen on an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI of the abdomen. As the prostate enlarges due to cancer, BPH, or any other reason, it restricts the flow of urine out of the bladder. Subsequently, it may fill with urine and enlarge.
  • Bone lesions on an x-ray, CT scan, MRI, bone scan or other imaging study: Prostate cancer has a tendency to spread to the bones. While many other conditions are more likely to be the cause of a new bone lesion, prostate cancer is also a possibility.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin or elsewhere in the body: Your physician may discover these on a physical exam. Prostate cancer, if it spreads, often goes to lymph nodes in the groin and pelvis, thus causing them to enlarge.
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Article Sources

  • Abraham J, Gulley JL, Allegra CJ. Bethesda Handbook of Clinical Oncology. 2005.
  • Govindan R, Arquette MA. Washington Manual of Oncology. 2002.