Penile Cancer

What is Penile Cancer?

Penile cancer is a very rare type of tumor that affects the skin cells of the penis.  Penile cancer usually affects men over the age of 50.

Penile Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Penile cancer usually appears in the distal portion of the penis, the gland or it can also appear in the foreskin of the penis, the preputium. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Changes in the thickness or color of the skin of the penis
  • A small rash or wart that increases it’s size over time
  • Smelly discharge
  • Swelling at the end of the penis
  • Lumps under the skin in the groin area

Although most of these symptoms can be seen in many other benign processes, it’s important to check with your doctor in case of any of these.

Penile Cancer Common Causes

There are some well-known risk factors related to this condition, although not an overall exact cause:

  • Penile cancer is more common in men under their 50s
  • HPV (Human papillomavirus) infection
  • Not being circumcised
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system

Penile Cancer Diagnosis

In case you have any signs of penile cancer, your doctor will perform a complete physical exam. Additionally, your doctor might recommend some of the following tests to confirm the suspicion of penile cancer:

  • Penile biopsy.
  • Imagining test, including X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, MRI. In order to look inside your body for tumors or other signs that the cancer has spread.

Penile Cancer Treatment

Your penile cancer treatment options depend on several factors, such as the local stage of cancer at the diagnosis, your tumor growth rate and the presence of metastasis at the moment of diagnosis. Some of the treatment options include:

Local Treatment Options

  • Cryotherapy. A procedure that uses an extremely cold liquid or a device to freeze and destroy tissue that contains cancer.
  • Mohs surgery, in which doctors remove the affected skin, one layer at a time, until they reach normal, healthy tissue.
  • Laser surgery, in order to cut and destroy areas that contain cancer.
  • Circumcision, in which the foreskin of the penis is removed. You would have this procedure if you only had cancer in your foreskin.

In case your cancer is more advanced, there are some more aggressive treatment options available, including:

Surgery

Surgery for penile cancer involves removing the entire penis or a portion of it (total or partial penectomy), as well as some or all of your inguinal lymph nodes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells, including penile cancer cells. This treatment option might be recommended after surgery and can also kill cancer cells that may have migrated from the original tumor to other locations.

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