Penile Cancer

What is Penile Cancer?

Cancer of the penis is cancer that starts in the penis, an organ that makes up part of the male reproductive system.

What causes Penile Cancer?

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.

What are the symptoms of Penile Cancer?

  • Genital lesions on the penis
  • Painless sore on penis (occasionally, the lesion may cause pain)
  • Penis pain and bleeding from the penis (may occur with advanced disease)

How is Penile Cancer treated?

Treatment depends on the location of the tumor and how much it has spread.

In general, cancer treatment includes:

* Chemotherapy -- uses medicines to kill cancer cells * Radiation -- using high powered x-rays to kill cancer cells * Surgery - cuts out and removes the cancer

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.