Cancer of the penis is rare in the United States. It typically occurs in men in their 30s and 40s. It has been linked to the sexually transmitted infection HPV.
Penile cancer may manifest as an abnormal mass or area on the penis or foreskin and may include redness or bleeding. If you have been diagnosed with penile cancer, it's important to seek treatment quickly. Penile cancer can spread rapidly if not treated.
Our urologists have extensive experience treating penile cancer in Arizona and will provide you with the latest state-of-the-art care. We partner with other experts in radiation oncology and hematology oncology here at UA Healthcare for a team of experts that ensures that you get the best care available.
The standard treatment for penile cancer is removal of the cancer. Depending on the size, depth and location of the cancer, this may mean removal of only a small portion of the foreskin or penis.
In certain cases where the cancer is larger or more involved, a large portion of or all of the penis may need to be removed (a partial or total penectomy). Because of the physical and psychological impact of removal of the penis, other treatments have been tried, but all treatments have limitations.
- For patients with tumors of very little depth, laser treatment offers the advantage of preserving the penis
- Like laser treatment, radiation treatment preserves the structure of the penis; however, penile cancer is resistant to radiation, and the complication rate is high — roughly 30-50% of patients require penis removal following radiation treatment
- In cases with small tumors on the foreskin only, circumcision alone may be adequate surgery, though the disease typically recurs in roughly a third to a half of all patients
- If tumors are very small and near the tip of the penis, Mohs microsurgery may be an option: surgically removing tissue from the tip of the penis in thin layers; the tip often becomes misshapen, and a narrowing of the opening of the urethra is common
- If tumors are simply at the top of the penis and enough can be preserved, surgeons may remove just the upper portion of the penis, leaving the remainder for urination and ejaculation
- For tumors further down, surgeons remove the entire penis; the urethra is reconnected to a surgical opening below the scrotum and the testes are left intact, allowing future sperm harvesting for in vitro fertilization if desired
- Lymph nodes in the groin may also be removed by surgery (liolinguinal lymph node dissection) if they're swollen and don't respond to antibiotics and in cases of aggressive, invasive penile cancer
- Finally, for patients with documented metastasis to lymph nodes and other tissues, chemotherapy may also have a limited role