|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative Names Return to topPenile cancer; Squamous cell cancer - penis
Definition Return to top
Cancer of the penis is cancer that starts in the penis, an organ that makes up part of the male reproductive system.
Causes Return to top
The exact cause is unknown.
Smegma, a cheese-like, foul-smelling substance found under the foreskin of the penis may increase the risk of penis cancer.
Uncircumcised men who do not keep the area under the foreskin clean and men with a history of genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV) are at higher risk for this rare disorder.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
The health care provider will perform a physical exam, which may reveal a non-tender lesion that looks like a pimple or wart. This growth is typically near the end of the penis.
A biopsy of the growth is needed to confirm if it is cancer.
Treatment Return to top
Treatment depends on the location of the tumor and how much it has spread.
In general, cancer treatment includes:
If the tumor is small and near the tip of the penis, surgery may be done to remove only the cancerous part of the penis. This is called a partial penectomy.
For more severe tumors, total removal of the penis (total penectomy) is often necessary. A new opening will be created in the groin area to allow urine to exit the body. This procedure is called a urethrostomy.
Chemotherapy may be used along with surgery. Bleomycin, cisplatin, or methotrexate alone or together are usually used for treating penile cancer.
Radiation therapy is often recommended in combination with surgery. A type of radiation therapy called external beam therapy is often used. This method delivers radiation to the penis from outside the body. External beam radiation therapy is usually performed 5 days a week for 6 - 8 weeks.
Support Groups Return to top
Joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems may help relieve the stress associated with diagnosis and treatment of penile cancer.
See: Cancer - support group
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome can be good with early diagnosis and treatment. The 5-year survival rate for penile cancers is 65%. Urination and sexual function can often be maintained even when a significant portion of the penis is removed.
Possible Complications Return to top
Cancer of the penis frequently spreads to other parts of the body (metastasizes) early in the course of the disease.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if symptoms of penis cancer develop.
Prevention Return to top
Circumcision may decrease the risk. Men who are not circumcised should be taught at an early age the importance of cleaning beneath the foreskin as part of their personal hygiene.
Good personal hygiene and safer sexual practices, such as abstinence, limiting the number of sexual partners, and use of condoms to prevent HPV infection, may decrease the risk of developing penile cancer.
References Return to top
Pettaway CA, Lynch DF, Davis JW. Tumors of the penis. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 31.Update Date: 11/10/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.