Penile cancer is a disease in which cancer cells develop within the tissues of the penis. This type of cancer is rare in North America but much more common in Asia and Africa. There are several risk factors that may lead to the cause of this cancer and these include the following.
• Men between ages of 50s to 70s have higher risk.
• Uncircumcised men.
• Men who have a condition called phimosis, or unretractable foreskin.
• Having multiple sexual partners.
• Having a sexually transmitted disease such as human papilloma virus (HPV).
• Poor personal hygiene.
• Men who smoke have higher risk than non-smoker.
Some of the symptoms that are associated with this disease may include lump or ulcer on the tip of the penis, itching and burning in the region, lump in the groin, discharge from the penis may cause irritation and itching, bleeding cause by erection.
Penile cancer can be diagnosed with the following method.
• Physical examination.
• Biopsy which involve removing cells or tissues and examined under microscope for signs of cancer.
• Tissues for biopsy is obtained through surgical procedure in which sample tissue are removed from abnormal skin.
Stages of Penile Cancer
Once the cancer has been diagnosed, more tests are performed to determine whether the cancer have spread to others parts of the body. Staging is the process in which the cancer has spread within the penis or to other parts of the body. Once the stages of the disease have been determine, doctor can recommend the best optimal treatment. Further test that are performed to determine the staging process may involve the use of CAT scan, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or Ultrasound exam.
The TNM system is used to describe the stages of the cancer.
“T” describes the site and size of the tumor.
“N” describes the spread of the tumor to lymph nodes.
“M” describes the spread of the tumor to other parts of the body or metastasis.
Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in-situ. The cancer cells are present on the skin surface layer of the penis and have not spread to nearby normal tissue.
The cancer has spread to connective tissue just under the skin surface layer of the penis and has not spread to any lymph nodes.
The cancer has spread into the internal chambers of the penis and the urethra, but has not spread to the lymph nodes and distant organs.
The cancer has spread to the urethra and has spread to one or more lymph nodes. It has not spread to distant organs.
The cancer has spread to nearby tissues and may have spread to lymph nodes in the groin or the cancer has spread to distant organs.
Types of Treatment
There are three different types of standard treatment for treating penile cancer and these include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Early tumor can be treated with mohs microsurgery, circumcision, local excision, and topical chemotherapy. Very early tumor can be treated with mohs microsurgery, laser surgery, and radiation therapy. Late stages of tumor may be treated with partial penectomy or total penectomy, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
There are different types of surgery that are used to treat different stages of penile cancer and these include the following:
• Mohs microsurgery is surgical procedure that involves cutting thin layers of tumor from the skin and examined under the microscope for cancer cells. This procedure is repeated until the tumor has been completely removed.
• Circumscion is surgical procedure that removes part or entire foreskin of the penis.
• Local excision is surgical procedure that removes only the cancer and some normal tissue in nearby region.
• Laser surgery is surgical procedure that uses intense light to cut through skin tissue and remove the tumor.
• Partial penectomy is surgical procedure that removes part of the penis.
• Total penectomy is surgical procedure that removes the entire penis.
There are two types of radiation therapy and these include external radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy. External radiation therapy involves the use of machine to direct high energy x-rays towards cancer region on the body. Internal radiation therapy involves the use of radioactive seeds that are inserted directly into the cancer region.
is most commonly used in patients when the cancer has spread to
different part of the body. Systemic chemotherapy uses drugs taken
orally or injected into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in all
parts of the body. Topical chemotherapy is most commonly used to treat
early tumor which involves the use of topical medications or cream that
is applied directly onto the skin area where the cancer is present.
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