- Cancer of the penis
- Cancer of the penis is a disease in which malignant cells originate in the tissues of the penis. Cancer of the penis is rare in the United States. Men who are not circumcised at birth may have a higher risk for getting cancer of the penis. (A circumcision is an operation in which the doctor takes away part or all of the foreskin, the skin which covers the tip of the penis.) A doctor should be seen if there are any of the following problems: growths or sores on the penis, any unusual liquid coming from the penis (abnormal discharge), or bleeding. The doctor will examine the penis and feel for any lumps. If the penis does not look normal or if the doctor feels any lumps, a small sample of tissue (a biopsy) is removed from the penis and looked at under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. If cancer of the penis is found, more tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread from the penis to other parts of the body (staging). A doctor needs to know the stage of the disease to plan treatment. The following stages are used for cancer of the penis: Stage I: Cancer cells are found only on the surface of the glans (the head of the penis) and on the foreskin (the loose skin that covers the head of the penis). Stage II: Cancer cells are found in the deeper tissues of the glans and have spread to the shaft of the penis (the long, slender cylinders of tissue inside the penis that contain spongy tissue and expand to produce erections). Stage III: Cancer cells are found in the penis and have spread to nearby lymph nodes in the groin. (Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells). Stage IV: Cancer cells are found throughout the penis and the lymph nodes in the groin and/or have spread to other parts of the body. There are treatments for all patients with cancer of the penis. Four kinds of treatment are used, namely, surgery (taking out the cancer in an operation), radiation therapy (using high-dose x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors), chemotherapy (using drugs to kill the cancer cells), and biological therapy (using the immune system to fight cancer). The prognosis (chance of recovery) and choice of treatment depend on the stage of the cancer (whether it is just in the penis or has spread to other places), and the patient's general state of health. (Entry based on information from the National Cancer
Medical dictionary. 2011.