Penile Cancer: Its types and Risk Factors

Penile cancer simple means cancer of the penis, which is often encountered in individuals over 50 years. Don’t be scared as there is good chance of a cure if it is diagnosed early and treated. Basically, the more the cancer has advanced the less chance of cure.

Types of Penile Cancer

There are several types of penile cancers depending on their type of cell. The most common one is squamous cell carcinoma, others are listed as below:

  • Squamous cell penile carcinoma accounts for 95% of the cases
  • Adenocarcinoma of penis accounts for 5% of the total cases
  • Carcinoma in situ; a squamous cell cancer that has not yet spread.
  • Basal cell cancer that accounts for 2% of the total cases are slowly growing and rarely spread to other areas.
  • Melanoma that account for less than 2% of the cases are more dangerous and can rapidly spread.
  • Sarcoma that develops from blood vessels, smooth muscle and other connective tissues cells accounts for less than 1% of the cases.
Signs and Symptoms of penis cancer

Long history of bumps or painful ulcers that itches, bleeds and discharge may be the initial symptoms of penile cancer. It may also be associated with balanoposthitis or phimosis, dysuria and painful intercourse. If the sore or growth on the penis doesn’t heal after continue medications penile cancer should be suspected. Sometime there may be foul smelling discharge from the penis. The inguinal lymph node may be swollen. Experts say that neonatal circumcision decreases the risk of penile carcinoma.

How is it diagnosed?

Although your dermatologist may diagnose just by looking, biopsy is required to confirm the case. Complete blood count may also be needed to know about general heath.

Causes and Risk Factors for Penile Cancer

Although the exact cause for penis cancer is not known, there are many factors that can increase the risk of penile cancer; some of them are listed below. Lichen sclerosus, genital warts and uncircumcised penis are by far most common risk factors for penile cancer.

  • Uncircumcised penis
  • Phimosis, Paraphimosis and balanitis
  • Long foreskin
  • Smegma
  • Poor or inadequate personal and sexual hygiene
  • Repetitive inflammation and irritation of the penis
  • Scarring
  • Smoking
  • Lichen planus and lichen sclerosus
  • Human papillomavirus infection
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Bowenoid papulosis
  • Squamous hyperplasia
  • Bowen disease of the penis
  • Giant condyloma
  • Erythroplasia of Queyrat
  • Several other sexually transmitted diseases
  • HIV infection
  • Photochemotherapy
  • Iatrogenic immunosuppression
  • Psoriasis
  • PUVA
Treatment of Penile Cancer

Treatment option for cancer of penis depends on location, size and the stage of tumor progression. In case of carcinoma in situ topical creams with laser may be sufficient but for other cancers surgical removal is the best option. In general cancer treatment includes:

  • Chemotherapy that uses medications to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation that uses high powered x-rays to kill cancer cells
  • Surgery that just cuts out and removes the cancer

The outcome of the cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread. For more severe cases and widespread lesion total penectomy (total removal of penis) is often the best option.

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