Penile cancer is rare, with approximately 500 men being diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK and it is most frequently diagnosed in men over the age of 50. The exact cause of penile cancer remains unknown; however, there have been several factors identified that increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include smoking, having the Human Pampilloma Virus (HPV), being uncircumcised, and conditions that make it difficult to pull the foreskin back, such as phimosis.
The first signs of this cancer often manifest themselves by a change in the skin colour of the affected area, a lump or sore on the penis, thickening of the skin, and a rash. Later on, symptoms might progress to discharge or bleeding. It is important for individuals to be vigilant about any changes because penile cancer can often be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis will be conducted through a biopsy that is performed by a specialist in the area. If necessary, the patient can then be referred on for further tests such as a CT scan or lymph node biopsy to investigate the results in more depth.
Treatment for penile cancer is usually able to be performed through surgery to remove the unhealthy tissue. These surgeries have progressed vastly since they were first used and now more penile preserving procedures are offered, which leads to better results both functionally and cosmetically for the patient. Further surgery may have to be conducted if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. If this has happened, a lymphadenectomy is performed, which removes the lymph nodes from the groin.