Penile cancer is a very rare form of cancer — found in about 1 percent of American men — in which cancer cells begin to grow on the penis shaft and eventually moves inside. The exact cause of most penile cancers is unknown; however, men who are uncircumcised, smokers, are living with HIV, or are 55 and older, are at an increased risk.
At NewYork-Presbyterian, our team of urologic cancer specialists is experienced in the care of men with penile cancer. We offer surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to cure this cancer, with careful attention to each patient's appearance and quality of life, when possible.
Our Approach to Penile Cancer Care
Treatment plans for penile cancer varies depending on the stage of the disease. Most treatments for early-stage penile cancer don’t affect sexual performance, but chemotherapy and radiation may. Our team of urologic oncologists and male reproductive health specialists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, pathologists, and fertility preservation experts will collaborate to customize your care.
Surgery. Surgery is the most common treatment for penile cancer, especially for small superficial tumors. Mohs surgery involves repeatedly removing layers of cancer and analyzing the tissue in each layer until no cancer cells are found. It enables our surgeons to minimize damage to healthy tissue, with the goal of preserving the appearance and function of the penis. Some men with squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers of the penis can have cryosurgery (the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy abnormal cells) or laser surgery (the use of a beam of intense light to vaporize cancer cells). If penile cancer has invaded the deeper tissue of the penis, surgery that is more extensive may be needed to remove the tumor as well as lymph nodes near the penis. This is one of the rare instances in cancer care where metastatic cancer can be cured with surgery alone. Performing such an extensive operation is a specialty of NewYork-Presbyterian's urologic surgeons.
Radiation Therapy. Radiation therapy is recommended as an alternative treatment that avoids the need for partial or complete removal of the penis. We use radiation therapy to target affected lymph nodes in the groin and pelvic area, or after surgery, to reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
Chemotherapy. Cancer is on the surface of the penis can be treated with topical chemotherapy, which is a cream that you apply to kill cancer cells. Some men need chemotherapy that is given by injection or taken by mouth.
Next Generation Therapeutic Care through Research
Clinical trials are essential to the advancement of cancer care. Clinical trials show researchers what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, it gives patients who may not respond well to traditional treatment methods another option. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we work with research scientists and physicians at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine to identify research opportunities that could extend the lives of our patients and help us better understand what causes cancer, why it spreads, how to prevent it, and develop more effective treatment methods. To learn more about current and upcoming clinical trials, visit our clinical trials page.
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
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