Penile cancer, or cancer of the penis, is characterized by malignant or cancerous cells that grow in the skin or in the tissues of the penis. A rare and complex cancer, penile cancer accounts for less than one percent of male cancers in the United States. Because it is so uncommon, most physicians have little experience treating penile cancer. Urologists at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, however, see many cases of penile cancer every year. This depth of expertise means better care and more successful outcomes for penile cancer patients.
It is important that you choose an experienced medical team to treat your penile cancer. Leading the way, with advanced training and years of practice, are the urologic surgeons from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As the surgical arm of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, they collaborate with a group of internationally renowned experts, creating an individualized care plan – just for you.
Urologic services are available at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Main Campus in Boston, at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, at Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center at Foxborough, and at our newest locations Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Milford and Brigham and Women's Health Care Center at Westwood. Discuss the most convenient location for you when you make an appointment with a patient coordinator.
Factors that contribute to an increased risk for developing penile cancer include:
Early detection is crucial to recovery, so it is imperative that men tell their physician if they notice any of the following on the foreskin, skin of the shaft of the penis or surface of the head of the penis:
Your urologist will meet with you to discuss your concerns and to conduct a thorough evaluation. Diagnostic tests and procedures may include:
Your urologist will order additional tests to determine whether cancer cells have spread within the penis or to other body parts. This is called staging. Tests may include:
Treatment for penile cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, where it is located, the size of the tumor and whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or has returned. Your urologist will discuss the best treatment for your particular situation and needs. The following therapies may be recommended:
You will receive a thorough diagnostic evaluation and receive clinically-proven treatment by a board-certified urologist who specializes in penile cancer. Your experience post-treatment will vary depending upon the stage of your cancer. When found early, penile cancer has a high cure rate. Advanced penile cancer is more difficult to cure and the treatment also causes serious side effects. That is why early detection – and the involvement of an experienced urologist – is so important.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital practices a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, collaborating with colleagues in other medical specialties. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center gives you access to the world’s best cancer experts. The Division of Urology’s surgical oncologists work hand-in-hand with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to create an individualized care plan. Specialists also include radiologists, pathologists, nurse specialists, social workers, palliative care specialists and dietitians.
To learn more about our cancer partnership, visit Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center.
Go to our online health library to learn more about urology diseases and tests.
Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families to access computers and knowledgeable staff.
Visit Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer for more information about penile cancer.
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