Ever Heard Of Cancer Of The Penis?

Penile cancer has a reasonable survival rate if treated in the early stages. But the chance of recovery decreases when the person starts delaying getting the treatment. It is a scarce type of cancer; usually, people are familiar with testicular cancer but may not know about penis cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates the number of penile cancer cases in the United States to be:-

  • About 2,200 new cases of penile cancer diagnosis
  • Around 440 deaths 

Penile cancer is rare in North America and Europe. Around 2,300 cases occur every year in the United States. It is very uncommon among United States men and counts for less than 1% of all men diagnosed. Notably, many cancer cases are related to Human Papillomavirus(HPV). They are more common in Africa, Asia, and South America.

82% of the patients have the chance to survive for five years or more after their first diagnosis, with the delay in the treatment, this survival rate decreases. After that, however, the quality of life deteriorates.

The survival rate reaches 50% if cancer has already spread to the surrounding tissues, organs, or regional lymph nodes. However, as cancer spreads, the rate of recovery drops. The rate further decreases to 12% once cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.

What Type of Cancer is Penile Cancer?

It is a very uncommon form of cancer that affects the skin and tissues of the penis. It originates in the healthy tissues of the penis, makes them cancerous, and begins to grow out of control, causing tumors. Cancer may also spread from the penis to other body parts, such as glands, lymph nodes, and other organs. 

The type of cell from which cancer arises determines the type of penile cancer. Here are a few examples:

  • Squamous cell: This is the most common type of penile cancer, accounting for almost 90% of penile cancer cases. It affects the cells present on the covering surface of the penis.
  • Carcinoma In Situ(CIS): A very particular type of squamous cell cancer that affects the cells in the penis’s skin that hasn’t spread any deeper.
  • Adenocarcinoma: The cancer cells start to develop in the epithelial cells of the penis. These cells are responsible for producing sweat.
  • Melanoma of the penis: It is a type of penile cancer in the part of the skin that gives color to the skin.

Read ahead to find out the penile cancer symptoms, signs of penile cancer, and the treatments.

What Does Penile Cancer Look Like?

The initial symptoms of penile cancer typically start from a lump on penis, mass, or ulcer on the penis. They may appear as an insignificant bump, small or large, infected sore. Primarily, it is located on the head or foreskin instead of on the shaft of the penis.

Some other penile cancer symptoms can help you to know the occurrence of penile cancer, such as:-

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Penile Discharge
  • Red rashes on the penis
  • A foul-smelling penile discharge
  • A sore on the penis that can heal within four weeks or more
  • Bleeding from the penis or under the foreskin
  • The skin of the penis or foreskin may become thick, causing difficulty in drawing back the foreskin (phimosis)
  • The skin color of the penis or foreskin may seem to change.

Consult with your doctor once you start experiencing these penile cancer symptoms. The sooner you’ll seek treatment, the more chance of recovery is.

Also Read: The 5 Deadly Types of Cancers 

Early Stage Penile Cancer Risk Factors

An uncircumcised penis is often the penile cancer causes, such as phimosis and smegma, which increase the risk of developing penile cancer.

Phimosis is a complication where the foreskin tightens and is difficult to retract. Usually, men suffering from phimosis are at a greater risk of developing smegma. 

Smegma is a substance formed from dead skin cells, moisture, and oil that gets collected underneath the foreskin. It usually occurs when uncircumcised men do not clean the area under the foreskin properly.

The following are the signs of penile cancer:-

  • Men of 60 years of age and above
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Men with poor personal hygiene
  • Men with a sexually transmitted infection, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV)

How is Penile Cancer Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose penile cancer by performing a physical examination and diagnostic tests. While analysing physically, your doctor will examine your penis and will try to inspect any lumps on penis, masses, or sores if present. 

If cancer is suspected, your doctor will probably perform a biopsy. It is a process in which the removal of a small sample of tissue or skin infected by cancer from the penis. After that, the examination of the model will determine the presence of cancerous cells.

With the help of the biopsy, the doctor confirms the presence of cancer cells. If the biopsy results come positive, your doctor wants to know how much cancer has spread and may go for a ct scan or magnetic resonance imaging.

It is a medical procedure involving using an instrument known as a cystoscope. It is a thin tube with a tiny camera and light at the end, inserted into the penis opening and through the bladder. Hence, the doctor can view the different areas of the penis and the surrounding structures, making it possible to determine whether the cancer has spread.

If the doctor finds it requisite, they may recommend an MRI of the penis cancer to ensure that it hasn’t invaded the deeper tissues of the penis.

Before coming to the treatment, it is better to know about cancer stages, as penile cancer treatment depends on these stages.

The Stages of Penile Cancer

The stage of cancer indicates how far cancer has spread. Based on the diagnosis results, your doctor will get to know about the cancer stage and find the best treatment plan according to the situation.

The stages of penile cancer are listed below:-

Stage 0:

  • Cancer infection is only on the top layer of the skin and not on any glands, lymph nodes, or other body parts.

Stage 1:

  • The infection has spread into the connective tissue below the skin and not to any glands, lymph nodes, or other body parts in this cancer stage.

Stage 2:

  • In this stage, the infection will spread to the connective tissue below the skin and to lymph vessels or blood vessels or cells that look very different from normal cells, cancer, erectile tissues, urethra, and multiple lymph nodes groin.

Stage 3: 

  • The infection will occur in nearby areas, such as the pubic bone, prostate, and scrotum. However, it may also occur in other areas and organs of the body.

Penis Cancer Treatment Options

Cancer treatment depends on the amount of infected area, irrespective of the type and the patient’s prevailing condition. The same is with the cancer of the penis. Based on the amount of infection spread, there are two main types of penile cancer; invasive and non-invasive. 

Non-Invasive penile cancer is a condition in which cancer has not reached the deeper tissues, lymph nodes, and glands.

On the other hand, Invasive penile cancer is a condition where cancer has reached deeply into the penis tissue, surrounding lymph nodes, and glands.

Penile cancer treatment depends on the amount of cancer spread. Keeping this in mind, some of the main treatments for non-invasive penile cancer are as follows:-

  • Circumcision: It is the process of removing the foreskin or the head of the penis.
  • Immunotherapy:  The therapy invokes the body’s immune system against cancer cells.
  • Laser therapy:  Use a high-intensity beam to destroy penis tumors and cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: High-energy radiation therapy results in the shrinkage of penis tumors and kills cancer cells.
  • Cryosurgery: This therapy uses liquid nitrogen that freezes penis tumors and removes them.
  • Chemotherapy: It is an aggressive form of chemical drug therapy that helps eliminate the cancer cells in the body. Some common medications include imiquimod (Aldara), Flocil 500 Mg Injection , etc.

Penile cancer treatment involves major surgery to remove the penis tumors, entire penis, or lymph nodes in the groin and pelvis. In addition, treatment options for Invasive penile cancer, including surgery, are as follows:-

Also, lookout medicines for other cancer treatment(breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, NSCLC or cancer of the lymphatic system): Neomustin Injection, Altaxel 100 Mg Injection.

Excisional surgery

Excisional surgery helps to remove the tumor from the penis. It involves a local anaesthetic to numb the area so you will not sense any pain. Your surgeon will then try to remove the penis tumors and the affected area, leaving a border of healthy tissue and skin. These incisions will be further closed with stitches.

Moh’s surgery

Moh’s surgery’s main motive is to remove the least amount of tissue possible that can help recover from penile cancer. Therefore, your surgeon will remove only a thin layer of the affected area in this surgery.

Next, the removed skin is examined under a microscope to determine whether it contains cancer cells. The process continues until the examination of cancer cells present in the tissue sample.

Partial penectomy

Partial penectomy involves removing a part of the penis if the tumor is small. In the case of large tumors, the doctor can perform a total penectomy, removing the entire penis. 

Even after the treatment, the doctor may ask you to visit every two to four months for one year after the surgery. 

The doctor may suggest penis reconstructive surgery after total penectomy.

How Do you Prevent Penile Cancer?

Different types of cancer are caused by various conditions. Penile cancer is still a mystery to researchers, who are still attempting to figure out what causes it and how to prevent it.

Although there is no way to completely prevent penile cancer, there are a few things you may do to lower your risk. Speak with your healthcare practitioner for more information about your cancer risk.

  • Circumcision. Circumcision performed before reaching maturity appears to offer some protection against penile cancer. Penile cancer is substantially less common in young men who have been circumcised, and epidermoid/squamous cell carcinoma of the penis nearly never develops in such males. It’s worth noting, however, that circumcision lowers but does not eliminate the risk of penile cancer.

  • Factors related to one’s way of life Avoiding sexual activities that might lead to an HPV or HIV/AIDS infection and not smoking will help reduce your chance of developing penile cancer.

  • Personal cleanliness is essential. Hence, cleaning under the foreskin thoroughly and frequently can help to reduce the chance of getting penile cancer.

FAQs

1 Can penile cancer be benign?

When healthy cells mutate and expand out of control, they create a mass known as a malignant tumour. The term “malignant” refers to a tumour that is cancerous and has the potential to spread to other sections of the body. 

There are also non-cancerous benign tumours of the penis. They can develop, yet they do not spread.

Penile cancer is rare cancer that usually affects men who have not had their penises circumcised. The patch of skin covering the head of the penis, known as the foreskin, has not been removed if you are uncircumcised. 

The excision of the foreskin is known to lessen the risk of penile cancer.

2 Can penile cancer cause erectile dysfunction?

Most guys who go through cancer treatments will experience erection problems (called erectile dysfunction or ED). Some men will be able to have erections that are strong enough to penetrate but not as strong as they were previously. 

Others may struggle to get erections. However, many alternative ED therapies can help many men regain their erections.

3 Can UTI cause penile pain?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial illness that starts in the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), or kidneys (urethritis) (kidney infection). A UTI might produce discomfort or a burning feeling in your penis when you pee.

4 What is penile discharge?

Any material that comes out of the penis that isn’t pee or sperm is referred to as penile discharge. The urethra, which goes through the penis and emerges at the head, is generally the discharge source. It might be white and thick or clear and watery, depending on the underlying reason.

5 How do you get penile papules?

The cause of penile papules has yet to be determined by medical experts. Penile papules are a common skin variant that isn’t hazardous. They are not infectious and cannot be spread from one person to another sexually.

Penile cancer is rare. However, the chances of developing the same cannot be denied. It can attack any part of the penis, however, the most common is beneath the foreskin.