Penile cancer is a rare form of cancer that mostly affects men over the age of 50. The very name penile cancer can set off alarm bells in the mind of men due to it occurring in such a sensitive area. It is reported just 500 new cases of penile cancer are diagnosed in the United Kingdom each year. Despite being rare, it can be a devasting cancer.
General practitioners will refer men suspecting they have penile cancer to a urologist for confirmation. The urologist will first take a blood test and confirm the patient’s medical history.
The specialist will then take a biopsy of the penis to test for penile cancer. A small piece of tissue will be removed to test under a microscope. Three different biopsies can be carried out and include incisional biopsy, excisional biopsy, and lymph node biopsy if the lymph nodes are also thought to be involved.
An MRI scan and CT scan will also be used to ensure the cancer has not spread to further parts of the body. Patient survival rates depend on how early the cancer is discovered.
Men may find the skin around the penis becoming discoloured. The skin can also become thick and bumps can develop in the area. Along with bumps or lumps, ulcers can form on the skin.
Ulcers can form on the shaft, foreskin, and head of the penis. Men may also find a foul-smelling discharge emanating from their penis. Discharge and/or blood can emerge from the ulcers.
Patients experiencing penile cancer have four methods of treatment. These treatment methods include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biologic therapy. Treatment can depend on the size of the cancer cells and growth.
Penile cancer surgery may involve removing the cancerous cells and some of the tissue near the area. Men can expect to have reconstructive surgery to repair the areas of the penis that are affected by the cancer.
Some patients may undergo partial amputation of the penis. The appendage can be reconstructed using muscle and tissue from other areas of the body. Modern medicine has made it possible to reconstruct the penis and give cancer suffers the chance to resume a normal life.