Penile Cancer

What is penile cancer?

Penile cancer, also identified as penis cancer, is a rare form of cancer to be found occurring in the penis. Around 400 cases of penile cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK and it has an inclination to affect men who are above the age of 50.

What causes penile cancer?

The precise source of penile cancer is unidentified, but a selection of apparent dangers are thought to play a function:

  • Age: penile cancer is very rare among young men and nearly all cases affect men over the age of 50
  • Family history
  • Exposure to the HPV (human papilloma virus): around 50 percent of men with penile cancer have been exposed to HPV
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system

Penile cancer is very rare among men who have been circumcised due to hygienic reasons.

Symptoms of penile cancer

Symptoms of penile cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the penis
  • Bleeding from under the foreskin
  • An unpleasant smelling discharge from the penis
  • Growth or sores that take a long time to heal
  • A change in colour of the penis or foreskin
  • The development of a rash on the penis

Advanced symptoms may also include weight loss, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes and pain in the back, bones and stomach.

How is penile cancer diagnosed?

If you notice changes or symptoms, see your GP. Your GP will talk to you in relation to symptoms and conduct an assessment. If they deduce that you might have penile cancer they will call in a specialist for secondary tests. Tests may include blood tests, a biopsy and X-rays. The outcome of the analysis will be used to verify diagnosis.

What treatments are available for penile cancer?

The main treatment for penile cancer is surgery, however, chemotherapy and radiotherapy might also be used. The plan of action will be based on the stage of cancer, whether cancer has spread and the individual's all-round fitness.

What is the outlook for penile cancer?

The outlook for penile cancer, like many other forms of cancer, will be based on the stage of cancer. If penile cancer is diagnosed near the beginning the outlook is very positive, however, if cancer has transferred to other body areas and is diagnosed at a developed stage, the outlook is not so positive. Around 90 percent of men diagnosed at an early stage will survive for at least five years following diagnosis.

Living with penile cancer

Living with penile cancer is never going to be easy and you may experience both physical and emotional challenges. If you are in need of additional information, support or advice, you can make contact with one of the UK cancer charities for support. Your care team during treatment will also be available to help you through this traumatic time.

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