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Cancer - penis
Alternative namesPenile cancer; Squamous cell cancer - penis
DefinitionA malignant (aggressively growing with a tendency to spread) cancer that affects the penis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsThe exact cause of penile cancer is not known, but the presence of smegma (cheese-like, odorous secretions found under the foreskin of the penis ) may increase the risk. Uncircumcised men who do not keep the area under the foreskin clean, and men with a history of genital herpes are at higher risk for this rare disorder.
Signs and testsExamination shows a non-tender lesion (typically near the end of the penis ) which may resemble a pimple or wart .
Excision (surgical removal) of the tumor and a biopsy are necessary for diagnosis.
Treatment for penile cancer varies depending on the location and degree of involvement of the tumor .
The treatment itself is generally painless, however, there are several side effects associated with radiation therapy. Possible side effects include loss of appetite , fatigue , skin reactions such as redness and irritation, rectal burning or injury, cystitis (inflamed bladder), and hematuria ( blood in urine ).
External beam radiation therapy is usually performed 5 days a week for 6 to 8 weeks.
Support GroupsThe stress of illness can often be helped by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group .
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome can be good with early diagnosis and treatment. The 5-year survival rate for penile cancers is 65%. Urination and sexual function can often be maintained even when a significant portion of the penis is removed.
ComplicationsCancer of the penis frequently spreads to other parts of the body (metastasizes) early in the course of the disease.
Calling your health care providerCall the health care provider if symptoms occur that are suggestive of cancer of the penis.
PreventionCircumcision 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. Good personal hygiene and safer sexual practices, such as abstinence, limiting the number of sexual partners, and use of condoms to prevent genital herpes infection, may decrease the risk of developing penile cancer.
Update Date: 9/3/2002Scott Howard, M.D., M.S., Memphis, TN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT