Be on the lookout for penile cancer
The first step is to be aware of any changes or abnormalities that appear on the penis, even if they’re not uncomfortable or painful. Make note of any:
- White patches
- Other unusual areas
If you notice something strange, let your doctor know.
Penile cancer diagnosis
Your doctor will examine the penis and the groin area to note any possible signs of cancer. This includes feeling the lymph nodes in the groin area to determine if they are swollen.
If the examination or your symptoms suggest penile cancer, you may need additional tests. These include a biopsy and imaging tests.
A biopsy involves examining tissue in a lab to see if it contains cancer cells. There are two main types of penile biopsy: incisional biopsy and excisional biopsy. You may also need a biopsy of nearby lymph nodes to determine if penile cancer has spread. Your doctor will recommend the right biopsy options based on the abnormal area being examined. An incisional biopsy involves removing a piece of the abnormal area. We recommend incisional biopsies if the abnormal area is:
- A sore on the penis
- Growing into the penis
- Large (usually larger than 1 centimeter, or about 0.4 inch)
- Missing the top layer of skin
An excisional biopsy involves removing the entire abnormal area on the penis. We recommend excisional biopsies if the abnormal area is smaller than 1 centimeter and limited to one area of the penis.
Imaging tests allow us to see inside the penis or the surrounding areas of the body. Your doctor may recommend an imaging test to get a better look at an abnormal area of the penis or the surrounding areas. Some of the imaging tests we use to diagnose penile cancer include:
Next steps for penile cancer care
If we detect penile cancer during the testing process, we’ll discuss options and work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.