Penile Cancer Treatment - Surgery

Advanced and minimally invasive surgery options for penile cancer

Penile cancer is rare and surgeons must be highly skilled at working around delicate tissues and organs. At Henry Ford, our surgeons are global experts in minimally invasive surgery. They are world leaders in creating innovative surgical techniques, including a procedure that spares delicate nerves and helps erectile function.

Minimally invasive surgery is done by making small incisions instead of large ones. This technique benefit our patients who experience less blood loss, less discomfort, less scaring, and faster recovery times.

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These are some surgical options that our doctors may discuss with you.


  • Circumcision is done when early stage penile cancer is only on the foreskin. The foreskin and some of the nearby tissue are removed. The treatment can often cure the cancer. Sometimes circumcision is done before radiation treatment to reduce problems with swelling.
  • Laser therapy or surgery involves using a narrow beam of high-energy light to vaporize (or burn off) precancerous tissue or non-invasive cancerous tissue on the skin or the lining of the internal organs.
  • Simple excision is a procedure that removes the tumor and some nearby normal skin. For small tumors, the skin can be stitched together.
  • Wide local excision involves removing the tumor and a large amount of normal tissue near it. This process helps to insure that no cancer cells are left behind. In some cases, a skin graft from another area of the body may be used to cover the wound.
  • Mohs surgery (microscopically controlled surgery) involves removing a thin layer of skin from early stage cancer and immediately examining it under a microscope. The process is repeated until the edges around the tissue do not show any more signs of cancer. The least amount of skin required to treat the cancer will be removed so that a more normal appearance and sexual function will be maintained. This type of surgery has a high cure rate for patients who qualify for it.
  • Glansectomy is a procedure used when the cancerous tumor is small and only on the end of the penis. Part of all of the glans may be removed. After surgery, skin grafts may be done to rebuild the glans.
  • Partial penectomy involves removing a cancerous tumor that has grown deep inside the penis. To remove all of the cancer, part of the penis may need to be removed.
  • Total penectomy is performed when not enough of the penis can be saved for urination to be done while standing. During this operation, the whole penis and the roots located in the pelvis are removed.
  • Perineal urethrostomy is done after a total penectomy. To drain urine, a new opening will be created in the area between the anus and the scrotum. The muscle that controls the urine will not be removed. To urinate, the man may have to sit down. Testosterone supplements will be prescribed to replace the hormone that had been produced in the testes. This surgery is also done after emasculation.
  • Emasculation may be done to treat very advanced penile cancers. The surgery involves removing the entire penis, the scrotum, and the testicles. To drain urine, the surgeon will create a new opening between the anus and scrotum. Testosterone supplements will be prescribed to replace the hormone that had been produced in the testes.

When cancer has grown deeply into the penis, the lymph nodes may be affected by the disease. Your doctor may remove some lymph nodes in the groin or other areas to check for cancer that may have spread. 

  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a minimally invasive surgery that will help your doctor find cancer cells that may have spread to the lymph nodes. Cancer cells typically travel in a path from the tumor site to lymph nodes near or farther from it. The doctor will inject a tracer substance into or near the tumor to find the path to the first diseased lymph node (called the sentinel lymph node). A small incision will be made to remove the diseased sentinel lymph node and any other diseased lymph nodes along the same path.
  • Inguinal lymphadenectomy (groin lymph node dissection) may be done for high stage cancers and when the lymph nodes are large enough to feel. Cancer or an infection may cause the swelling. If antibiotics do not reduce the swelling and treat the possible infection, surgery will be done. During this operation, the surgeon will make a four-inch incision in the groin and carefully remove the swollen lymph node.
  • Pelvic lymph node surgery is done when cancer cells have been found in two or more of the lymph nodes in the groin. The pelvic lymph nodes may be removed and checked at the same time that the lymph nodes in the groin are removed, or the surgery may be scheduled for a later time.

Connect with our Cancer Team 24/7. Call us at (888) 777-4167

Connect with our Cancer Team 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167

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