Penile cancer

Around 500 men are diagnosed with this rare form of cancer in the UK each year, most frequently those over the age of 50

About penile cancer

The exact cause of penile cancer is unknown. However, there have been several factors identified that increase your risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include smoking, having the human pampilloma virus (HPV), being uncircumcised and conditions that make it difficult to pull the foreskin back, such as phimosis.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of penile cancer icon plus

    Initial symptoms can include:

    • a change in the skin colour of the affected area
    • a lump or sore on the penis
    • a thickening of the skin
    • a rash

    As the condition progresses, symptoms may include:

    • discharge
    • bleeding

    It is important for you to be vigilant about any changes because penile cancer can often be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will require you to have a biopsy. If necessary, you can then be referred for further tests including:

    • CT scan
    • a lymph node biopsy to investigate the results in more depth
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment for penile cancer is usually able to be performed through surgery to remove the unhealthy tissue. Surgical procedures have progressed vastly since they were first used and now more penile preserving procedures are offered, which leads to better results both functionally and cosmetically. Further surgery may have to be conducted if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. If this has happened, a lymphadenectomy is performed, which removes the lymph nodes from your groin.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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