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Penile Cancer

Penile cancer is the formation of cancerous cells in the penis. Over 95 percent of penile cancers involve flat skin cells called squamous cells, and cancer often develops in the foreskin of uncircumcised men, or on the glans of the penis, although cancer can develop in other locations in the penis.

Symptoms of Penile Cancer

The most common symptoms of penile cancer are redness, irritation, discharge, bleeding, or sores; patients may also detect a lump on the penis. Any of these symptoms are cause for immediate medical assistance, as cancer is more effectively treated at its earliest stages.

Risk Factors for Penile Cancer

There are several risk factors that make some men more likely to develop penile cancer. One of the most important is exposure to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, found in more than half of all penile cancers.

HPV infection has been shown to be a contributing factor in several other cancers as well. There is now a vaccine for HPV for both males and females that is available with other childhood vaccines.

Other risk factors for penile cancer include:

  • Not having been circumcised
  • Being over the age of 55
  • Being a smoker
  • Having phimosis (a condition in which the penis foreskin cannot be pulled back over the glans)
  • Having AIDS

Having any of these risk factors does not mean that you will get penile cancer. In addition, many men with the disease have none of these risk factors. Understanding risk factors helps your physician evaluate you fully for penile cancer and treat the disease as early as possible.

Diagnosing Penile Cancer

Your physician will take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. If a lump or suspicious growth is found, a biopsy may be performed to determine if the tissue is malignant.

Early detection of penile cancer is critical to success in treatment and quality of life. If penile cancer is found early, it can often be removed with little or no damage to the penis or with few sexual side effects. If it is found late, all or part of the penis may need to be removed and invasive treatments may be required. Seek prompt medical attention for any lesions, growths, or other abnormalities on the penis.

Treatment for Penile Cancer

Treatment of penile cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the precise location of the cancer, as well as the age and overall health of the patient. Surgery is the most common treatment for penile cancer, and every effort is made to remove or kill the cancer with the minimum of damage to surrounding tissue or to the penis itself.

Treatment options for penile cancer include:

  • Mohs surgery, in which the tumor is cut from the skin in thin layers
  • Laser surgery, which uses a laser beam as a knife, for bloodless incisions and removal of surface lesions
  • Cryosurgery, the freezing and destruction of abnormal tissue
  • Wide local excision to remove the cancer and some normal tissue nearby
  • Chemotherapy
  • Circumcision
  • Amputation of the penis, either a partial or total penectomy
  • Radiation therapy

Miami urologist Dr. Marvin Bondhus sees and treats men with penile cancer from throughout Miami-Dade County. For a consultation, call (305) 661-9692 or use our secure online appointment request form.