Penis cancer facts*
*Penis cancer facts by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
- Penis cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the penis.
- Risk factors for developing penis cancer include human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, not being circumcised, being age 60 or older, phimosis, poor hygiene, many sexual partners, and tobacco use.
- Signs and symptoms of penile cancer include sores, redness, irritation, discharge, bleeding, or a lump on the penis.
- A biopsy may be taken to determine if you have penile cancer.
- Treatments for penile cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
- Prognosis and treatment options depend on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor, and whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred.
Penile cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the penis.
The penis is a rod-shaped male reproductive organ that passes sperm and urine from the body. It contains two types of erectile tissue (spongy tissue with blood vessels that fill with blood to make an erection):
- Corpora cavernosa: The two columns of erectile tissue that form most of the penis.
- Corpus spongiosum: The single column of erectile tissue that forms a small portion of the penis. The corpus spongiosum surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm pass from the body).
The erectile tissue is wrapped in connective tissue and covered with skin. The glans (head of the penis) is covered with loose skin called the foreskin.
Human papillomavirus infection may increase the risk of developing penile cancer.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for penile cancer include the following:
Today research has shown that about half of all penis cancer is caused by HPV
Circumcision may help prevent infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). A circumcision is an operation in which the doctor removes part or all of the foreskin from the penis. Many boys are circumcised shortly after birth. Men who were not circumcised at birth may have a higher risk of developing penile cancer.
Other risk factors for penile cancer include the following:
- Being age 60 or older.
- Having phimosis (a condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back over the glans).
- Having poor personal hygiene.
- Having many sexual partners.
- Using tobacco products.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/18/2014
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Penis Cancer - Stages
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Penis Cancer - Risks
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Penile Cancer - Diagnosis
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Penile Cancer - Signs and Symptoms
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