Are you at risk for penile cancer?

Are you at risk for penile cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, penile cancer is a rare form of cancer that forms in the external male reproductive organ that is evidenced by a malignant growth on the skin or in the tissues of the penis. Fortunately, the disease is not very common. About 1,360 men in the United States, suffered from penile cancer in 2011. However, an estimated 320 men have died as a result of the disease, which is why raising awareness is important.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that the cause of penile cancer is unknown. However, a substance known as smegma — described as a "cheese-like, foul-smelling substance" — found under the foreskin can increase the risk of penile cancer. Uncircumcised men who don't practice good hygiene in this region and men with a history of HPV or genital warts all have a higher risk of contracting the disease.

Some symptoms of penile cancer include genital sores and ulcers, penis pain and bleeding from the penis. When genital sores and ulcers occur as a result of penile cancer, they are often painless. A lack of pain coupled with these lesions should be seen as alarming, rather than benign. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it's crucial that you contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there are a few effective treatments available. A patient's treatment method will depend largely on the size, location and stage of the cancer. Despite these variations, general treatment for penile cancer will include:

  • Chemotherapy: the use of advanced medicine to kill cancer cells.
  • Surgery: removing the cancer by physically cutting it off the skin.
  • Radiation therapy: the use of high-powered X-rays to kill the cancer cells.

Usually, surgery is conducted in cases where the tumor is limited in size and located near the tip of the penis. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be applied in conjunction with surgery. Although penile cancer has a high risk of metastasizing early on in the course of the disease, early diagnosis and treatment can often lead to a positive outcome. For sufferers of penile cancer, the statistics are in their favor, since the five-year survival rate for penile cancer is a promising 65 percent. If you experience any symptoms, consult a highly rated Cincinnati urologist.

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