Prostate Problems You Should Know About

What Problems Can the Prostate Develop?

Doctor showing male patient a chart
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Prostate problems are fairly common in men of all ages, and they are especially common in older men. Prostate problems can range from simple inflammation to metastatic cancer. It is important to have a basic understanding of the possible problems that can develop in the prostate.

Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Problems

Because of the prostate's anatomic location just below the opening of the urinary bladder, the most common symptoms of prostate problems are urinary symptoms.

Urinary hesitancy and urgency, painful urination, and frequent nighttime urination are common symptoms of all prostate problems.

Less common symptoms can also occasionally be experienced:

  1. Bone Pain

    Prostate cancer has a strong preference for spreading to the bones once it has moved beyond the immediate vicinity of the prostate. The most common areas of bonemetastasis from prostate cancer are the lower spine, the pelvis, and the hips. These areas of metastasis will often be painful.

  2. Blood in the Urine or Semen

    The prostate’s primary function is to produce the fluid that makes up semen. If prostate cancer causes bleeding within the prostate, it is possible for this blood to be discharged in the semen.

    The urethra, a small tube carrying urine from the bladder through the penis to the outside of the body, passes through the prostate. Prostate cancer can sometimes invade or erode into the sides of the urethra and cause bleeding into the urine.

    1. Tingling, Numbness, and Pain in the Legs and Feet

      Prostate cancer has a strong preference for spreading to the bones, especially the lower spine, pelvis, and hips. If the cancer spreads to the lower spine or certain areas within the pelvis, it is possible for the tumor to compress important nerves that pass through these areas on their way to the legs.

      Compression of these nerves can cause tingling, numbness, or pain in the legs and feet.

      Any prostate problem can also result in an increased prostate specific antigen (PSA) level in the blood. The more dangerous prostate problems, such as cancer, typically result in higher levels of PSA than noncancerous causes. However, the PSA test alone cannot distinguish between noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) prostate problems.

      Noncancerous Prostate Problems

      Noncancerous prostate problems are far more common than prostate cancer and are usually not life-threatening. They are not completely without danger, however, and should be taken seriously.

      The most common noncancerous prostate problems are:

      Prostate Cancer

      Prostate cancer is the most dangerous prostate problem, but it can cause the same symptoms as any other prostate problem at first. Oftentimes, prostate cancer is diagnosed before any symptoms are noticed.

      Distinguishing Between Benign and Malignant Prostate Problems

      It's important to remember that all prostate problems can have the same signs and symptoms.

      These signs and symptoms cannot be used to distinguish between the various prostate problems. Additionally, the PSA test cannot be used to definitively distinguish between malignant and benign prostate problems, as a great deal of overlap exists in PSA levels between the various conditions.

      The only definitive way to differentiate between benign and malignant prostate problems is to seek a prostate biopsy.


      Kumar: Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease, 7th ed. 2005.

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