Penis cancer refers to any malignancy (a tumor, or mass of cancerous cells) that forms on the penile tissue, from the glans to the foreskin to the spongy erectile tissue inside. While the chances of developing cancer of the penis are smaller than other types of cancer, it can still be a very dangerous disease, and if it is not caught in the early stages, it can spread to other parts of the body. This process, called metastasizing, can be life-threatening. As with other forms of cancer, it is important to understand the risk factors and symptoms and to seek early treatment for any irregularities in the penis. Learning more about penis protection and the signs to look out for can improve men’s prognosis if they do develop a malignancy.
- Genetics – men with a family history of cancer have a greater chance of developing penile tumors;
- HPV – men who have been exposed to HPV, or human papillomavirus, may be at greater risk;
- Having multiple sexual partners and/or contracting an STD has been linked to cancer;
- Poor personal hygiene habits can lead to numerous issues and may be associated with penile tumors;
- Phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin cannot be pulled back over the head of the penis, is also associated with cancer, although it is not clear whether it is causative;
- Men over the age of 60 are more likely to develop penis cancer;
- Men who smoke have a greater risk of numerous types of cancer, including penile cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Sores, swelling, a clear or whitish discharge, lumps and bleeding are all signs of penile cancer. However, these problems are also symptomatic of numerous other penis problems. Attempting to self-diagnose any health issue is not a good idea, because it is easy to misinterpret the symptoms; therefore, any unusual issues with the penis should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Treatment for penile cancer depends on the location of the tumor, as well as the stage that the cancer has reached. Standard surgery may be used to remove localized tumors that have not metastasized; this may include circumcision to remove the foreskin. Laser or cryosurgery may be used in some cases and can be less invasive than other procedures. For more advanced cases, partial or full amputation of the penis may be necessary.
Following surgery, men may be treated with radiation or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancerous cells.
In some cases, experimental treatments may be recommended, and men may be asked to take part in a clinical trial of a new form of cancer treatment. This is generally done in cases where standard procedures are ineffective in eliminating the cancer.
While there is no foolproof way to ensure that men will not develop penile cancer, certain precautions can be taken to reduce the risk and to protect overall penis health. These may include:
- Use of a condom during sexual encounters;
- Not smoking, or quitting for those who already smoke;
- Immunization against HPV
- Use of a sunscreen when spending time outdoors (yes, even on the penis – not all clothing can protect against UV rays).
Can a penis health creme protect against penile cancer?
While there is no clear research to indicate that creams or lotions can protect against cancer, there are indications that certain ingredients can benefit the penile tissue. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, and others, that are often found in a quality penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) may help to protect the penile tissue against oxidative damage from free radicals, an issue which has been linked to cancer. Adding a penis cream like this to the daily personal care regimen is a good idea, as it can also help to maintain overall skin health and a smooth, supple appearance.