Leg pain with prostate cancer may be a sign that cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer may cause leg pain if the disease spreads to the lymph nodes around the groin or bones.

Prostate cancer causes prostate cells to grow uncontrollably.

When prostate cancer reaches an advanced stage, it can metastasize. This means it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the bones, through the lymphatic system.

When cancer spreads away from the initial site like this, it can cause various symptoms, including leg pain.

In this article, we look at how prostate cancer causes leg pain, other symptoms of prostate cancer, how to manage pain, and when to speak with a doctor.

A shadow of a person's leg.Share on Pinterest
Mima Foto/Stocksy

A few factors may cause someone with prostate cancer to experience leg pain.

The pain may be due to a condition called lymphedema. The body’s lymphatic system is a network of tubes and lymph nodes. It filters fluid in the body and helps fight infection.

The groin area, which is close to the prostate gland, has many lymph nodes.

If prostate cancer reaches the stage where it spreads through the lymphatic system, it can end up in the groin, causing pain and swelling. The cancer cells may block the flow of lymph fluid, causing it to build up and leading to swelling in the legs.

Treatments, such as radiation therapy, can also cause a blockage and swelling in the lymphatic system.

Additionally, leg pain may occur when cancer spreads to the bones. Advanced stage prostate cancer often spreads to the bones, resulting in pain, fractures, and an increased risk of death.

The outer layers of bones have nerves, and cancer that spreads to the leg bones may put pressure on these nerves, causing pain.

Advanced stage prostate cancer can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • extreme tiredness
  • pain
  • problems with the urinary system, including issues with bladder emptying, urine leakage, blood in the urine, and kidney problems
  • bowel problems, including diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, or urgency
  • bone fractures
  • problems having sex, including low libido due to hormone therapy or erectile dysfunction
  • lymphedema, or the buildup of lymph fluid that causes swelling
  • anemia
  • metastatic spinal cord compression, when prostate cancer cells spread and grow near the spine, leading to pressure on the spinal cord
  • hypercalcemia, or having too much calcium in the blood
  • loss of appetite and weight loss, either due to cancer itself or treatment

If a person with prostate cancer experiences leg pain due to lymphoedema, they can speak with a doctor about treatment recommendations.

Things people can do to increase lymphatic drainage and manage their leg pain relating to prostate cancer include:

  • having lymphatic drainage massages
  • doing gentle exercise
  • using compression bandages or stockings
  • wearing close-fitting underwear or lycra cycling shorts, specifically for managing swelling in the penis or scrotum

Besides swelling and pain, lymphoedema can cause inflammation, redness or discoloration, infection, and tight or sore skin on the legs. Regular cleaning and moisturizing can help keep the skin soft and reduce the risk of cracking and infection.

People can also speak with a doctor about appropriate medications to treat their leg pain.

Some may also try complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, to treat pain.

A 2019 systematic review highlights the potential benefits of acupuncture. The authors point out its long history in treating pain and suggest it might ease many types of pain without adverse reactions.

If a person shows any signs of prostate cancer, including unexplained leg pain, they can make an appointment with a doctor.

Symptoms to consult a healthcare professional about include:

  • back, hip, or pelvis pain
  • problems getting or maintaining an erection
  • blood in the semen or urine
  • weight loss with no clear cause

During a physical examination, a doctor will check the prostate gland to ensure there is no enlargement or inflammation due to infection or cancer.

People with advanced stage prostate cancer may experience leg pain when the cancer cells spread outside the prostate. They may block the flow of lymph fluid, resulting in swelling and pain in the legs. Cancer may also spread to the leg bones, causing pain.

Other symptoms of advanced stage prostate cancer include bowel, urinary, and sexual problems.

People with prostate cancer can manage their leg pain by seeking prompt treatment, taking prescribed medications, having lymphatic drainage massages, and doing gentle exercise.