Treating Penile Conditions and Diseases

Treatment for penile conditions varies widely depending on the type and severity of condition and whether it is causing any problems.

Treatments usually fall into the following categories:

Medications

There are many medications used to treat penile conditions. Some of the more common medications are:

  • Antibiotics and antifungals to treat infections
  • Decongestants to help reduce blood flow to the penis
  • Intracavernous injection of alpha-agonists to reduce blood flow to the penis in cases of priapism
  • Clostridium hitolyticum to treat Peyronie's disease
  • Steroid cream to treat phimosis

Minimally invasive penile procedures

  • Cryoablation , otherwise known as cryosurgery, uses liquid nitrogen to freeze tissue and kill cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat early-stage penile cancer.
  • Laser therapy can be used to treat certain penile conditions. When used to treat penile cancer, laser therapy emits a powerful beam of light to kill cancer cells on the surface of the penis. It can also destroy growths on the penis, such as genital warts and vascular tumors on the penis (cutaneous hemangiomas of the penis).
  • Circumcision , or removal of the foreskin on the penis, may be necessary for certain penile conditions. For example, circumcision can be used to treat recurrent or severe balanitis. It may also be recommended for phimosis and paraphimosis depending on the severity of the conditions and the symptoms they cause. Circumcision may also be used to treat cancer that is confined to the foreskin.
  • Aspiration is a procedure that can be used to drain blood from the penis in cases of priapism.

Penile Surgery

  • Penectomy , also known as amputation of the penis,is a common and effective treatment for some stages of penile cancer. It is usually reserved for cancer that has spread deep into the penis. Penectomy can be either partial or total. A partial penectomy involves removing the end of or part of the penis, and a total penectomy involves removing the entire penis. Other surgical procedures may need to be done along with penectomy to create pathways for urine excretion.
  • Penile Prosthesis , otherwise known as a penile implant or penis implant, is a device implanted in the penis to help men get an erection. A penile prosthesis must be surgically inserted into the penis. There are two main types of prostheses: semi-rigid and inflatable. Semi-rigid implants are always firm, so positioning of the penis can be an issue. Inflatable implants can be inflated for sexual activity and deflated when an erection is not necessary. Two- and three-piece inflatable implants are available. Usually penile implants are inserted when men have been unable to maintain an erection even after non-surgical treatments for erectile dysfunction, such as medications and penis pumps. Some men with Peyronie's disease also get penile implants to help correct the painful curve of the penis that results from the disease.
  • Mohs surgery , also known as microscopically controlled surgery or microsurgery, is used to remove cancer cells while preserving as much of the surrounding healthy tissue as possible. During Mohs surgery, a surgeon removes layers of the affected tissue a little at a time, checking to see if there is any evidence of cancer in that layer. If there is, he or she removes the next layer and repeats the process until they find a cancer-free layer. Surgeons must be trained to perform Mohs surgery because it is a highly specialized technique that requires specific training. It can be used to treat some cancers that have not spread to deep tissue, such as early-stage penile cancer.
  • Urethral repair surgeries can be performed to correct birth defects, such as hypospadias and epispadias. Oftentimes, these defects will also require additional surgery. For example, both defects may involve a short or abnormally curved penis, so surgery to straighten and lengthen the penis may also be necessary.

General cancer treatments

In addition to surgery, penile cancer may need to be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both.

  • Chemotherapy treats cancer by killing rapidly growing cells, which includes cancer cells. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs. Sometimes they are used alone, and sometimes they are used in conjunction with other chemotherapy drugs. Typically, they are injected into a vein through an IV, and they travel throughout the body to attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be very effective at finding and killing cancer cells that have spread to other areas of the body. Low-dose chemotherapy is often used together with radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy uses energy beams to destroy cancer cells. It can be used by itself or in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. There are two basic types of radiation therapy - external beam radiation that is given externally and internal radiation that is injected directly into the areas affected by cancer (such as brachytherapy for prostate cancer treatment).

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