What is Penile Cancer?
It is a very rare form of cancer that affects the skin and tissue of the penis. It affects healthy penile tissue and can cause it to become cancerous and out of control, as can tumors. Cancer can spread from the penis to other parts of the body, such as arterial lymph nodes and other organs.
Depending on the type of cell carcinoma that has occurred, penile cancer is classified into some of the more common forms:
• Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of penile cancer, accounting for about 90% of penile cancers. It affects the cells present on the surface of the penis.
• Intraepithelial cancer (CIS): This is a very specific type of squamous cell carcinoma that affects the skin cells of the penis and does not spread deeper.
• Adenocarcinoma: When cancer cells start growing in the arterial cells of the penis and are involved in the production of sweat, it is called penile cancer adenocarcinoma.
• Penile melanoma. Skin discoloration is a type of penile cancer on part of the skin.
What Percentage of Men Have Cancer?
When treated in the early stages of the disease, it is an acceptable type of cancer for survival. However, if a person starts postponing treatment, the likelihood of recovery is reduced. It is a rare type of cancer. In general, people are familiar with testicular cancer, but they may be aware of penile cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of penile cancer in the United States is estimated as follows:
• About 2,200 new cases of penile cancer have been diagnosed this year.
• About 440 people died.
Penile cancer is very rare in North America and Europe. Approximately 2,300 cases are reported annually in the United States. It is very rare in American men and accounts for less than 1% of all men diagnosed. It has been noted that many cases of penile cancer are associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are more common in countries such as Africa, Asia and South America.
As the cancer spreads, the cure rate decreases. 82% of penile cancer patients can survive at least 5 years after the first diagnosis and this survival decreases with delay of treatment. If it is determined that the cancer has already spread to surrounding tissues, organs or lymph nodes, the survival rate reaches 50%. As cancer spreads to distant parts of the body, the rate drops to 12%.
What Does Penile Cancer Look Like?
The first symptoms of penile cancer usually begin with a lump, formation, or sore on the penis and can appear as small bumps with little or no pain when infected. In most cases, it is not located on the axis of the penis, but on the head or foreskin.
Many other penile cancer symptoms can help you understand the onset of penile cancer, for example:
• Traffic light
• red rash on the penis
• odorless discharge
• Pain in the penis lasting 4 weeks or more.
• Bleeding under the penis or foreskin.
• The skin on the penis and foreskin thickens and it may be difficult to pull the foreskin back (circumcision).
• The skin color of the penis or foreskin may appear to change.
If you start experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor – the sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of recovery.
Who is at risk for penile cancer?
Men with uncircumcised genitals are more prone to complications such as phimosis and glans and have an increased risk of developing penile cancer.
Phimosis is a complication in which the foreskin has difficulty contracting and retracting. Men with phimosis have a higher risk of developing the glans penis.
It is a substance composed of dead skin cells, moisture and fat that collects under the foreskin of the glans. This usually happens when the area under a man’s uncircumcised foreskin is not properly cleaned.
Men with other medical conditions also have a higher risk of developing penile cancer, for example: –
• Men over 60
• to smoke
• Men with poor personal hygiene
• Men who live in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene habits.
• Men with sexually transmitted diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV).
How is penile cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose penile cancer by doing a physical exam and diagnostic tests. During a physical scan, the doctor will check your penis and try to look for any lumps, bumps, or anyone else.
If cancer is suspected, doctors will likely perform a biopsy. This is the process of taking small samples of cancer-infected skin and tissue from the penis. The sample is then examined to determine if it contains cancer cells.
With a biopsy, doctors look for cancer cells. If the biopsy results are positive, the doctor may order a cystoscopy to see how far the cancer has gone.
This is a medical procedure that uses an instrument called a cystoscope. It is inserted through the opening of the penis and bladder into a small chamber and finally into a thin tube containing light. This can help doctors check various areas of the penis and surrounding structures to determine if the cancer has spread.
An MRI of the penis may also be needed if the doctor determines that it is necessary to prevent the cancer from entering the deep tissues of the penis.
Since treatment for penile cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, it is helpful to know the stage of the cancer before starting treatment.
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What stage is penile cancer at?
The stage of the cancer shows how far it has spread. Doctors know the stage of the cancer based on the results of the diagnosis. This will help your doctor find the best treatment plan for your situation.
The stages of penis cancer are listed below:
• Cancer occurs only in the upper layer of the skin and does not affect arterial lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
• Cancer. At this point the infection spreads to the subcutaneous connective tissue, not to the arterial lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
• In this stage of penile cancer, infection occurs in connective tissue, lymphatic vessels, or cells that are very different from normal cells, or the cancer has spread to the erectile tissue or urethra.
• Stage 3A, the cancer has spread to one or two lymph nodes in the connective tissue, lymphatic vessels and erectile tissue under the skin, urethra and groin area.
• At this point the infection spreads to lymphatic vessels or blood vessels or cells which will be very different from connective tissue and normal cell cancers, erectile tissue in the urethra and several lymph nodes in the groin under the skin.
• Infection occurs in nearby areas such as the pubic prostate and scrotum. Infection can also occur in other areas and organs of the body.
Can Penile Cancer Be Cured?
The treatment for some cancers depends on the area of
Non-invasive penile cancer is a condition in which the cancer does not reach the deeper tissues, lymph nodes and arteries.
Invasive penile cancer is a condition in which cancer penetrates deep into the lymph nodes and arteries around the tissues of the penis.
Penile cancer treatment depends on the extent of the cancer. With this in mind, some of the major non-invasive penile cancer treatments include:
• Circumcision: the process of removing the foreskin from the penis.
• Laser treatment: involves high intensity light aimed at destroying tumors or cancerous cells.
• Chemotherapy: This is an active chemotherapy that helps get rid of cancer cells in the body.
• Radiotherapy: High-energy radiotherapy kills cancer cells by shrinking the tumor.
• Cryosurgery. This treatment uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove the tumor.
Penile cancer treatment includes extensive surgery to remove tumors in the groin and pelvis, entire penis, or lymph nodes. Surgical options for invasive penile cancer include:
Surgery to remove the tumor from the penis helps remove the tumor. It is a local anesthetic that numbs the affected area so you don’t feel pain. Next, the doctor excised the tumor along with the affected area and leaves the boundary between th healthy tissue.
The main reason for hair removal surgery is to remove the minimum amount of tissue that can help cure penile cancer. In this operation, the surgeon removes only a thin layer of the affected area. The removal of the infected skin is then examined under a microscope to determine if it contains cancer cells. This process is repeated until all cancer cells present in the tissue sample have been identified.
Partial resection of the penis
In case of partial genital resection, part of the penis is cut off. This surgery is only effective if the tumor is small. For large tumors, the penis is completely removed. Complete penis removal is known as the entire penis.
Even after treatment, you can see your doctor every 1 year, 2 to 4 months after surgery.
If your penis has been completely removed, your doctor may suggest penis reconstruction surgery.