Learn About Penile Cancer

What is the definition of Penile Cancer?

Penile cancer is cancer that starts in the penis, an organ that makes up part of the male reproductive system.

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What are the alternative names for Penile Cancer?

Cancer - penis; Squamous cell cancer - penis; Glansectomy; Partial penectomy

What are the causes of Penile Cancer?

Cancer of the penis is rare. Its exact cause is unknown. However, certain risk factors include:

  • Uncircumcised men who don't keep the area under the foreskin clean. This leads to buildup of smegma, a cheese-like, foul-smelling substance under the foreskin.
  • History of genital warts, or human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Smoking.
  • Injury to the penis.

The cancer usually affects middle age and older men.

What are the symptoms of Penile Cancer?

Early symptoms may include:

  • Sore, bump, rash, or swelling at the tip or on the shaft of the penis
  • Foul-smelling discharge beneath the foreskin

As the cancer advances, symptoms may include:

  • Pain and bleeding from the penis (may occur with advanced disease)
  • Lumps in the groin area from spread of the cancer to the groin lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty in passing urine
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What are the current treatments for Penile Cancer?

Treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor and how much it has spread.

Treatment for penile cancer may include:

  • Chemotherapy -- uses medicines to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation -- uses high-powered x-rays to kill cancer cells
  • Surgery - cuts out and removes the cancer

If the tumor is small or near the tip of the penis, surgery may be done to remove only the cancerous part of the penis where the cancer is found. Depending on the exact location, this is called a glansectomy or partial penectomy. Laser surgery may be used to treat some tumors.

For more severe tumors, total removal of the penis (total penectomy) is often needed. A new opening will be created in the groin area to allow urine to exit the body. This procedure is called a urethrostomy.

Chemotherapy may be used along with surgery.

Radiation therapy may be used along with surgery. A type of radiation therapy called external beam therapy is often used. This method delivers radiation to the penis from outside the body. This therapy is most often performed 5 days a week for 6 to 8 weeks.

Who are the top Penile Cancer Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Hematology Oncology


1500 E Duarte Rd 
Duarte, CA 91010

Tanya Dorff is an Oncologist and a Hematologist Oncology doctor in Duarte, California. Dr. Dorff has been practicing medicine for over 22 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Penile Cancer. She is also highly rated in 19 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Prostate Cancer, Penile Cancer, Familial Prostate Cancer, and Bladder Cancer. She is licensed to treat patients in California.

Highly rated in
Surgical Oncology
General Surgery

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd 
Houston, TX 77030

Curtis Pettaway is an Urologist and a Surgical Oncologist in Houston, Texas. Dr. Pettaway has been practicing medicine for over 39 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Penile Cancer. He is also highly rated in 14 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Penile Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Familial Prostate Cancer, and Scrotal Masses. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Pettaway is currently accepting new patients.

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Highly rated in

The Netherlands Cancer Institute

Amsterdam, NH, NL 1066C

Oscar Brouwer is in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Brouwer is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Penile Cancer. He is also highly rated in 1 other condition, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Penile Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer, and Melanoma.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Penile Cancer?

The outcome can be good with early diagnosis and treatment. Urination and sexual function can often be maintained.

What are the possible complications of Penile Cancer?

Untreated, penile cancer can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) early in the disease.

When should I contact a medical professional for Penile Cancer?

Call your provider if symptoms of penile cancer develop.

How do I prevent Penile Cancer?

Circumcision may decrease the risk. Men who are not circumcised should be taught at an early age the importance of cleaning beneath the foreskin as part of their personal hygiene.

Safer sexual practices, such as abstinence, limiting the number of sexual partners, and using condoms to prevent HPV infection, may decrease the risk of developing cancer of the penis.

Male reproductive anatomy
Male reproductive system
What are the latest Penile Cancer Clinical Trials?
A Phase 1 Trial of the ATR Inhibitor BAY 1895344 in Combination With Cisplatin and With Cisplatin Plus Gemcitabine in Advanced Solid Tumors With an Emphasis on Urothelial Carcinoma
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Complications and Adverse Events in Lymphadenectomy in the Inguinal Area: Delphi Consensus on Adverse Events Definition and Management
What are the Latest Advances for Penile Cancer?
Use of immunotherapy in clinical management of genitourinary cancers - a review.
A laparoscopic radical inguinal lymphadenectomy approach partly preserving great saphenous vein branches can benefit for patients with penile carcinoma.
Tired of the same old research?
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Effectiveness and safety of adjuvant chemotherapy compared to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with penile cancer and positive lymph nodes regarding overall survival and free disease survival: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: July 28, 2020
Published By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Heinlen JE, Ramadan MO, Stratton K, Culkin DJ. Cancer of the penis. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 82.

National Cancer Institute website. Penile cancer treatment (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/penile/hp/penile-treatment-pdq#link/_1. Updated August 3, 2020. Accessed October 14, 2020.