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What is penile cancer?

Penile cancer is a disease in which malignant or cancerous cells multiply in the tissues of the penis in an uncontrolled manner. It is a rare type of cancer, which is seen in men aged above 40 years. Circumcision reduces cancer risk and hence penile cancer is not common amongst the Muslim and the Jewish males. Penile cancer is classified into various types depending upon the cells involved. Cancer affecting the skin of the penis is called melanoma of the penis.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

An abnormal growth or lump on the penis felt on touching is one of the earliest signs of penile cancer. Others include bleeding or persistent foul discharge that does not resolve for weeks together, rash on the tip of the penis, ulcers or an irregular lesion on the shaft of the penis or unusual pain in the penis. These symptoms can be accompanied by unexplained weight loss, lethargy and difficulty in passing urine as the disease advances.

What are the main causes?

The exact cause for developing penile cancer is not fully understood; however, some risk factors known to increase the possibility of getting it are smoking and having phimosis, which is a condition in wherein the foreskin adheres to the tip of the penis, making it prone to repeated infections and thereby developing a cancer risk. Other factors include old age, injury to the penis and a history of genital warts.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

If any of the above symptoms persist even after getting treated from a general practitioner, the individual should consult a specialist or a urologist who would examine and investigate in detail. One of the primary and most important investigations is to take a local biopsy. A biopsy involves collecting a tissue sample from the affected organ and examining it under the microscope for cancer cells or other diseases. Once this is done, a series of scans, such as PET scan or CT scans are advised to know the exact spread and extent of cancer infiltration. Accordingly, the cancer is staged based on the lymph node involvement, spread and the extent of cancer invasion into the normal tissue. This staging gives a fair idea of the prognosis of cancer and the individual’s chances of recovery.

Treatment depends upon the size of the affected area and the extent of cancer spread. For tumours at the tip of the penis and confined only to the skin, laser surgery is done to remove that part. A skin graft will be put in place next. For advanced stages of cancer, treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

  1. Medicines for Penile Cancer
  2. Doctors for Penile Cancer
Dr. Ashok Vaid

Dr. Ashok Vaid

Oncology
31 Years of Experience

Dr. Susovan Banerjee

Dr. Susovan Banerjee

Oncology
16 Years of Experience

Dr. Rajeev Agarwal

Dr. Rajeev Agarwal

Oncology
42 Years of Experience

Dr. Nitin Sood

Dr. Nitin Sood

Oncology
23 Years of Experience

References

  1. Hernandez BY, Barnholtz-Sloan J, German RR, et al. Burden of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis in the United States, 1998–2003. Cancer. 2008;113:2883–2891. PMID: 18980292
  2. Schoen EJ. The relationship between circumcision and cancer of the penis. CA Cancer J Clin. 1991;41:306–309. Volume41, Issue5 September/October 1991 Pages 306-309
  3. Kochen M, McCurdy S. Circumcision and the risk of cancer of the penis. A life-table analysis. Am J Dis Child. 1980;134:484–486. 1980
  4. Daling JR, Madeleine MM, Johnson LG, et al. Penile cancer: importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease. Int J Cancer. 2005;116:606–616. PMID: 15825185
  5. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Penile Cancer—Patient Version.

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