Penile cancer

Penile cancer is rare. It affects the skin on the penis or under the foreskin. It’s more common if you’re over 50.

 

What is penile cancer?

There are different types of penile cancer. The most common is squamous cell penile cancer. It usually develops under the foreskin in uncircumcised men. It can also begin on the penis head (glans).
 
Other types include:
• Adenocarcinoma which starts in the sweat-producing glandular cells
• Carcinoma in situ (CIS) which affects only the cells in the penis skin
• Melanoma of the penis which begins in cells that give the skin its colour
 

Causes of penile cancer

No one is certain what causes penile cancer. You’re more likely to get it if you:

• Smoke
• Have a common sexually transmitted virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV)
• Have a condition where your foreskin is difficult to pull back (phimosis). This makes it more likely that you’ll get infections that increase your risk of penile cancer

Symptoms of penile cancer

A growth or sore that doesn’t heal by itself within a month

A rash on the penis

Bleeding from the foreskin or penis

Changes in colour of the skin of the penis

Discharge that smells unpleasent

Thicker skin that makes retracting the penis difficult (phimosis)

Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have penile cancer, but it’s best to get them checked by a doctor. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and if there’s anything that makes them better or worse. After a physical examination, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist for further tests. These include:

  • A biopsy where a small sample of tissue is removed for analysis
  • Blood tests
  • Colposcopy using a microscope to check for abnormal vaginal cells
  • Fine needle aspiration to take a small sample of cells for analysis
  • Scans including CT, MRI and PET-CT scan

Treatments we offer

Treatments for penile cancer include surgery (wide local excision of the tumour, partial or total penectomy, with or without groin lymph node removal), radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
 
 

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UA

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton, West Midlands, Coldfield B74 3BF

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Nottingham

The Park Cancer Centre, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Notthingham, NG5 8RX

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Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Bartons Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 5NA

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3XL

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Southampton

Southampton Centre, Chalybeate Close (off Tremona Road), Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Elstree, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 3SZ

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 6LB

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, BuckinghamShire, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7XN

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3HD

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