Penile Cancer (Cancer Of The Penis)
August 10, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Penile Cancer (Cancer Of The Penis)

Penile cancer is a rare form of cancer caused by the uncontrolled growth of normal healthy cells in the penis. It usually affects the skin of the penis and the foreskin (the skin covering the head of the penis).

When the normal cells start growing abnormally, they become cancerous and form a tumor. Cancer can be life-threatening if left untreated. Therefore, treatments like creams and laser therapy must be applied.

Treatment procedures and preventive measures not only lower the seriousness of the disease but also reduce the severity of various symptoms like swelling, ulcer, rash, etc.

What are the Types of Penile Cancer?

Different types of penile cancers include:

      Squamous cell or epidermoid carcinoma: It usually begins on or under your foreskin but can also spread to other parts of your penis.

      Sarcoma: These cancers usually affect blood vessels, muscle, and fat.

      Melanoma: This cancer manifests in the cells that give your skin color.

      Basal cell carcinoma: These cancers grow slowly and rarely spread to the other parts of your body.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Penile Cancer?

The risk is greater in men who:

      Smoke regularly

      Have HIV or AIDS

      Are uncircumcised. In this case, fluid and smegma form underneath the foreskin. It may also be due to the uncleaned area under the foreskin.

      Have human papillomavirus (HPV)

      Do not follow good hygiene practices

      Live in an area with poor sanitary conditions

      Take medications such as the drug psoralen and are undergoing treatment with ultraviolet light.

      Have a condition called phimosis, in which the foreskin becomes tight, which causes difficulty in cleaning the skin.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Penile Cancer?

The most common symptoms include:

      Lump and sore formation on the penis

      Bluish-brown growths on the penis

      The end part of the penis gets swollen

      Rash that can be velvety and reddish

      Rapid weight loss

      Feeling tired

      Itching, burning, irritation

      Pain in the stomach

      Formation of lumps under the skin of the groin

      Changes in color and thickness of the penis skin

      Fluid discharge underneath the foreskin

These signs and symptoms do not always indicate that you have penile cancer. They may be due to an allergic reaction or infections caused by bacteria or fungus. Still, if you have any of them, see a health care provider and get it diagnosed properly.

How Can You Prevent Penile Cancer?

You can lower the risk of developing penile cancer by taking the following preventive actions:

      Have a circumcision

      Quit tobacco use

      Clean your foreskin regularly

      Use safe sex practices

How is Penile Cancer Diagnosed?

Consult your doctor if you experience any unusual signs and symptoms of penile cancer. The doctor will perform certain tests to confirm the diagnosis. Some of them are mentioned below:

1.    Physical tests: The doctor will also take your medical history and ask you about the symptoms.

2.    Different kinds of biopsies such as incisional, excisional and lymph node biopsy.

3.    Imaging tests like chest X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and computed tomography.

What is the Treatment for Penile Cancer?

The treatment options include:

      A medicated cream for the skin.

      Lasers, where areas containing cancerous cells are destroyed.

      Circumcision (removal of the foreskin)

      Mohs surgery, where the affected skin is removed layer by layer.

      Cryotherapy, where doctors freeze the cells using cold liquid.

      Chemotherapy and radiation.

      Penectomy (removal of the penis or a part of it)

      Surgery to remove some or all of the lymph nodes.

For more information, book an appointment at Shifa4U.

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.