Cancer of the Penis

Possible signs of penile cancer include sores, discharge, and bleeding.
These and other symptoms may be caused by penile cancer, there are also other conditions may cause the same symptoms.

Any of the below signs or symptoms are something that everyone should be aware of and see your doctor  immediately if any occur.

  • redness, irritation, or  a sore on the penis.
  • a lump on the penis

Other health conditions can have the same signs and symptoms of penile cancer, so having any of the following does not necessarily mean a man has cancer. However, it is important to see a doctor about:

  • a wart like growth or lesion on the penis that does not heal
  • a change in color of the penis
  • redness or irritation of  the penis
  • itching or burning under the foreskin
  • foreskin that does not pull back or retract fully (phimosis)
  • swelling of the penis
  • foul-smelling discharge or bleeding from the penis or from underneath the foreskin
  • a lump in the groin


Penile cancer is very rare, If found early, the chances of curing it are very high. Cancer can develop anywhere on the penis but most commonly develops

  • Under the foreskin in men who haven’t been circumcised
  • On the head of the penis (glans)

Visiting your GP

If you suspect you might have cancer of the penis, the first doctor you’re likely to see is your GP. Your GP will ask you

  • What symptoms you are having
  • When you get your symptoms
  • Whether anything you do makes your symptoms better or worse.

Your doctor will also examine you and ask questions about your general health. After your examination, your doctor may refer you to hospital for tests and X-rays, or may ask you to see a specialist. This is usually a urologist, who is a doctor specialising in diseases that affect the urinary system and genital organs.

  1. Hospital or Specialist 

The specialist will ask you about your medical history and any symptoms that you have. They will also check you over, including examining the lymph nodes (glands) in your groin to see if there are signs of any cancer spread. If your lymph nodes contain cancer cells, they may be larger than normal.

    2. Penile Biopsy.

Your doctor may want you to have a biopsy of the abnormal area on your penis. You usually have an incisional or excisional biopsy.

An incisional biopsy means using a surgical knife (scalpel) to remove a small piece of the abnormal area. An excisional biopsy is the same, but the doctor removes the whole of the abnormal area. The sample is sent to a laboratory and a specialist doctor called a pathologist, examines it under a microscope. The pathologist can see if the sample contains areas of cancer.

You will usually have your biopsy under anaesthetic, which might be a local or general anaesthetic. If you have a general anaesthetic, you may need to stay in hospital overnight. After these types of biopsies, you will need to have some stitches put in where the skin has been cut. The stitches will stay in for about a week. You may have to go back to the hospital to have them removed. Or they may be dissolvable stitches.

  1. Fine Needle Aspiration

 As well as feeling your groin area for swollen (enlarged) lymph nodes, your doctor may also use an ultrasound to check for abnormal lymph nodes. If there are any, your doctor will take a sample (biopsy) to check for cancer cells. This is called a fine needle aspiration (FNA). The doctor puts a needle into the lymph node and sucks out a sample of fluid and cells. They may use ultrasound to help guide the needle into the lymph node. The sample is sent to for testing to be looked at by a pathologist.

If cancer cells are found, you will need to have the lymph nodes removed (lymph node dissection). In some cases the usually happens at the same time as having surgery to your penis.

After going through any of the above procedures, the following general guideline may be useful to follow:

  1. There will be a surgical dressing on the penis. This can usually be removed about 24 hours after the procedure. Stitches (sutures) will be dissolvable but can take up to 2 weeks to fully dissolve.
  2. You can shower, normally after about 24 hours. Keep in mind not to rub soap in the wound area to prevent any disturbance and keep careful when drying. The wound area can be dried by gently patting with a clean towel and/or gauze pad. You can only have a bath after one week to prevent soaking in bad bacteria.
  3. It is common for the penis to be bruised and swollen after the operation. Prescribed painkillers should be taken on a regular basis, (not just when men get pain) for the first 48 hours or until they feel comfortable. Often paracetamol combined with an anti-inflammatory medication (such as Ibuprofen) are particularly effective at reducing discomfort.
  4. Take it easy. You should be able to go back to work within a few days but if you are being reviewed and/or being referred to an oncologist it may be a good idea to wait for these arrangements to be made (you may need to take more time off work).
  5. Men may begin normal sexual activity again six weeks after their operation, as long as they feel comfortable.
  6. You should expect a follow up call from your specialist regarding your procedure and test results. This is when you will be advised of any further treatment and future plans.