Penis Cancer

Penis or penile cancer is a malignant cancer occurs in the tissues of the penis. As penis being the male reproductive organ, cancerous tumor in penis obstructs the passage of sperm and urine from the body and also leads to several other problems.

What are the possible symptoms of penis cancer?

Most commonly observed signs and symptoms of penis cancer include:

  • Sores, discharge, and bleeding
  • Redness, irritation, or a sore on the penis
  • A lump on the penis

Risk factors of Penis Cancer

Identifying the possible risk factors at the earliest can turn out to prevent penis cancer. Some of them include:

  • Being age 60 or older
  • Having phimosis (a condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back over the glans)
  • Having poor personal hygiene
  • Having many sexual partners
  • Using tobacco products

How to diagnose Penis cancer?

There are few tests and procedures to detect and diagnose penis cancer. Two of the important ones are:

Physical examination and history: It involves a thorough examination of the body like general signs of health, checking the penis for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. Obtaining patient’s health history is also taken into account.

Biopsy: The process of removing a sample of cells or tissues to check for signs of cancer is known as biopsy.

What are the different treatments available for Penis Cancer?

Different types of treatment exist for different stages of penis cancer. Some of the standard treatments are:

Surgery: The most preferred treatment for any stage of penile cancer. There are various surgical methods to remove the cancerous tumor. They are:

Mohs microsurgery: A surgical process in which the tumor is cut from the skin in thin layers. Doctors, while looking through the microscope remove the edges of tumors and each layer of tumors. Removing layers continues till no more cancer cells are seen.

Laser surgery: A surgical procedure that uses a narrow beam of intense light as a knife to make bloodless cuts in tissue or to remove a tumor.

Cryosurgery: In Cryosurgery, an instrument is used to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue.

Circumcision: It is a type of surgery to remove part or the entire foreskin of the penis.

Wide local excision: Through surgery only the cancer and some normal tissue around it is removed.

Amputation of the penis: Surgery is performed to remove part or the entire penis. If part of the penis is removed, it is a partial penectomy. If the entire penis is removed, it is a total penectomy.

Lymph nodes in the groin may be taken out during surgery.

During surgery, if any cancer cells are left they are removed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy - Depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy.

1. External radiation therapy

2. Internal radiation therapy

Chemotherapy – Depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated

Treating the cancer cells by the use of drugs that stop the growth of cancer cells or kills the cells or stopping them from dividing is known as chemotherapy. Drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle which then enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).

Can penile cancer be prevented?

As penile cancer is a preventable cancer, there are few ways which aid in prevention of penile cancer.

  • Maintaining Genital hygiene
  • Avoiding HPV infection
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Avoid smoking
  • Using condoms ("rubbers") provide some protection against HPV

Side effects of Penis Cancer

Any cancer treatment will have both short term and long term side effects:

Short term side effects are:

  • Tiredness
  • Sore skin
  • Swelling

Long term side effects:

  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Reduced blood supply to the penis
  • Difficulty in getting an erection
  • Swelling of your legs or abdomen


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