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Penile Cancer

Couple holds hands while meeting with penile cancer specialist at Beaumont

Types of Penile Cancer

Penile cancer, otherwise known as cancer of the penis, is cancer that affects the skin and tissue of the penis. In the United States, it is very rare. Less than one man in 100,000 will get penile cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, each year in the U.S., about 1640 men will be diagnosed with penile cancer and 320 men will die from it. Prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men, will be diagnosed in 233,000 men each year, and 29,480 will die from it.

There are six main types:

What causes penile cancer?

The exact cause is not known, however, many risk factors for getting penile cancer are known. A risk factor is something that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors are:

Penile Cancer Symptoms

The first sign of penile cancer is usually changes to the skin of the penis. The skin changes may include:

  • Color change – The skin may become darker or lighter or may change color from flesh-toned to red.
  • Change in skin thickness – The skin of the penis may become thicker or change texture.
  • Tissue buildup – You may notice a buildup of tissue on the penis or a raised area of skin.
  • Sore or ulcer – Some penile cancer may begin with a sore or ulcerated area of skin on the penis.
  • Lump on the penis – You may notice a lump or bump on the penis.

Most of the time, the skin changes will begin on the glans (head) of the penis, but penile cancer can occur anywhere on the penis. If you are uncircumcised, you should regularly retract the foreskin and check the skin underneath for changes. And all men should check their penis regularly for any changes. If you see any changes to your penis, call your doctor.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Reddish, velvety rash on the penis
  • Small bumps that can appear crusty
  • Flat growths that are blue-ish brown in color
  • Unusual or new discharge from the penis that may have a foul odor
  • Swelling of the tip of the penis
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area that may feel like lumps under the skin of the groin

If you have any symptoms, call your doctor and make an appointment right away. Getting an early diagnosis is important because when penile cancer is caught early, treatment tends to be much more effective.

Can penile cancer be prevented?

Because there is no definitive cause and some men who get penile cancer don’t have any known risk factors, it’s not possible to prevent all cases of penile cancer. However, some experts believe that many cases are preventable, and the best way to prevent it is by avoiding risk factors. Aside from age, all risk factors can be avoided.

Here are some ways you can reduce your risk:

How is penile cancer diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of penile cancer, your doctor will examine you and order some diagnostic tests to find out whether you have cancer and, if you do, what type of cancer it is. The tests may include:

Penile Cancer Treatment

Penile cancer treatment will depend on a number of factors, including the type and stage of cancer, your overall health and your preference regarding the treatment options.

At Beaumont, you will have a multidisciplinary team of doctors and professionals working with you to find the best treatment for you. Your team of specialists may include a urologist, an oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a nurse practitioner, and a psychologist or social worker, among others.

The main treatment options are:

Clinical Trials

There are often clinical trials going on that involve treatment for penile cancer. Clinical trials may give men with penile cancer an opportunity to have experimental treatments that aren’t widely available. If you have penile cancer, talk with your doctor about clinical trials and whether there are any that might be right for you.

Make an Appointment

If you have symptoms of penile cancer or already have a diagnosis of penile cancer and would like to talk with us about treatment options, call 877-BEAT-CANCER (877-232-8226) to make an appointment.