Cancer is unforgiving, and for a man, you may be shocked to know that penile cancer is a very real thing.
The good news is that this condition is rare, and if found early on, it’s treatable. If allowed to progress, penile cancer can work its way from the skin cells to the inside of the penis.
But you will be able to identify the cancer visually because it starts on the skin cells.
Ease Your Worry with Penis Cancer Statistics
Before covering this scary form of cancer in-depth, it’s important to know that just 2,320 men in the United States are diagnosed with this cancer annually. And out of these cases, 63% of them are associated with HPV.
So, while less than 1% of all cancer diagnoses involve penile cancer, it definitely does occur.
Around 380 men die per year from the disease, and it is statistically more common to get penile cancer if you’re from:
Survival rates past 5 years is 81%, and survival greatly depends on how early the cancer is found.
One theory for this is that not being circumcised may be a key reason for penis cancer. The idea is that bodily fluids will become trapped due to the foreskin, and when this happens, the fluids will begin to contribute to cancer cell growth.
Men over the age of 60 are more susceptible to this form of cancer, and smokers or those that have a weakened immune system may also be at a higher risk of cancer.
What Does Penile Cancer Look Like?
The skin of the penis will change if you have cancer, and it will often show up on the shaft or tip of the penis.
If a man is not circumcised, he may have the cancer present on the foreskin. This may also be penile melanosis.
Visual changes that you’ll be able to identify are:
Lumps on the penis
Growths that are bluish-brown in color
Discharge underneath the foreskin of the penis
Penile skin color changes
Penile skin thickness change
Rashes or small, crusty bumps
Swelling that presents at the end of the penis
Lumps in the groin area
Bleeding (ulcer) or sore penis
But keep in mind, that this isn’t a clear indication of penis cancer. There are allergic reactions and skin infections that cause the same symptoms and are not skin cancer by any means. The good news is that if you have these symptoms, you can go to the doctor, get tested and hopefully catch the cancer early if it does exist.
The penile glans has lymph nodes, and this is where the swelling will occur first. Infection will also cause swelling, and since this form of cancer is so rare, it’s more likely that you have an infection.
Lumps or sores often don’t hurt.
Swelling is often only present at the end of the penis if cancer is present. Drawing back the foreskin will be harder if the penis is swollen.
Testing for Penis Cancer
Penile cancer needs to be diagnosed properly, and this will require a physical exam by a doctor. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions, and you’ll need to walk the doctor through all of the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing,
Additional tests will need to be performed, including:
Imaging to determine if there are tumors inside of the body or if the cancer has spread. This may include an MRI, CT scan or x-ray.
Biopsies may be required, too. This is when a doctor will take a small sample of the skin, and the skin’s tissue will be sent back to the lab for additional testing.
If a positive test comes back, you’ll need to undergo a routine treatment plan. Early stages of penile cancer can be treated by removing the skin, lasers to destroy the cancer, cream, cyrotherapy or circumcision.
Advanced forms of penis cancer will require more intense treatment options, and this may include surgery that will remove some or all of the lymph nodes where the cancer has spread. Chemotherapy or radiation may also be required. In the most severe of cases, a penectomy may be required. In this case, this will be the removal of some or all of the penis.
If you are concerned about any abnormalities on your penis, please seek professional medical help as soon as possible. As with all forms of cancer, early detection is crucial.