What is it?
Penile cancer is extremely rare in the United States. Many men who notice an abnormal lesion on their penis may be embarrassed and therefore there may be a significant delay in treatment. Your urologist will provide re-assurance, understanding and a comprehensive evaluation of your condition.
Symptoms of penile cancer:
- Penile lesion
- Non-healing ulcer or growth on the head or shaft of the penis
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the groin area
Why does it occur?
- Presents commonly 55-60 year old, but occurs at any age
- Uncircumcised men-presence of the foreskin or “hood” covering the head of the penis is a risk factor
- Tobacco use
- Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Chronic inflammation of penile skin
How is it evaluated and why?
Your urologist will perform a thorough physical examination. In addition, they will likely perform a biopsy of the lesion itself and/or of any enlarged lymph nodes in the groin.
You may need additional imaging with ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to accurately stage your condition.
Your physician will discuss the appropriate therapy for you which may include:
Penile Sparing therapy (indicated for specific stages of penile cancer)
- Circumcision-removal of the foreskin/”hood” of penis if the lesion is confined to just this area
- Wedge resection-excision of just the lesion including a border of normal appearing tissue around it
- Laser excision-laser to ablate/burn the lesion
- Chemotherapy-topical chemotherapy agents to the lesion until it disappears; chemotherapy may also be delivered intravenously in advanced cases of penile cancer
- Moh’s surgery: systematic “shaving” down of the tumor until it is completely removed (reserved for small lesions)
- Resurfacing: abrasive removal of the tumor on the head of the penis followed but coverage of the area with a skin graft
Partial or Total Penectomy (non-penile sparing): Surgical removal of part or all of the penis. This may be followed by removal of the lymph nodes in the groin or pelvis if there is evidence the cancer has spread.
Penile cancer is a rare condition but can be treated when caught early. If you are concerned about abnormal findings on your body or genitalia please bring it to the attention of one of our urologists who can accurately assess the condition and provide appropriate compassionate care.