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The Rare case of Penile Cancer

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Most men take utmost care of their genital area, including their penis as it is an intimate place and requires extra care. However, some men end up dealing with penile cancer due to a variety of reasons. Penile cancer is known to be a rare case and quite uncommon. However, as a man, it’s important to understand what penile cancer is. Let’s have a look below.

Penile cancer takes place when the cells grow out of control on or in a man’s penis. It usually starts in the skin cells and works its way inside. This cancer is known to be rare and like many other cancers, if detected early, it can be treated. This year (2022), *an estimated 2,070 men in the United States will be diagnosed with the same.

When we talk about penile cancer, there are different types of penile cancer that a man can be diagnosed with. These can be:

Squamous cell or epidermoid carcinoma

This makes up 95% of penile cancer cases. It usually starts on or under your foreskin but can also appear on other parts of your penis.


These cancers form in tissues like blood vessels, muscle, and fat.


This is cancer that starts in the cells that give your skin colour.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

These cancers start deep in your skin. They grow slowly and aren’t likely to spread to other areas of your body.

Risk Factors

Penile Cancer can be caused due to smoking.

When we talk about penile cancer, a healthy cell in your skin can change into a cancer cell. These cancer cells multiply out of control to form a tumour and can crowd out the healthy cells as well. With time, these cancer cells spread to the other parts of your body, while damaging the healthy tissues as well as your organs.

There are several risk factors, such as:

  1. Human Papillomavirus or HPV.

  2. HIV or AIDS leading to a weak immune system.

  3. Smoking.

  4. No circumcision leading to formation of smegma under your foreskin.

  5. Phimosis.

  6. Had psoriasis treatment with psoralen drug and UV light.


While not all cancers cause certain changes that you are able to watch out for, penile cancer can certainly make your penis look different. Some other changes that you might notice are:

  1. A painless lump or sore that may bleed.

  2. Swelling and irritation, especially on the head of your penis.

  3. Skin thickening or changing skin colour.

  4. Fat growths that look blueish-brown.

  5. Foul-smelling fluid underneath your foreskin.

  6. Small, crusty bumps.

  7. Rash or rashes.

Prevention of Penile Cancer

Penile Cancer can be prevented by many factors.

Like the very famous saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’, the same applies even to a disease that is rare. It is essential to reduce that risk and take prevention. There are a lot of ways that can help you out  with the preventions, such as:

  1. Get circumcised.

  2. Get treated for phimosis.

  3. Get the HPV vaccine.

  4. Practice safer sex to stay away from HIV.

  5. Avoid tobacco products like cigarettes.

  6. Practise good hygiene.


Although penile cancer is a rare type of cancer, do not believe that you will never end up being diagnosed with it, especially if you smoke, have unprotected sex and are uncircumcised. If you, in any way, feel that your penis looks different than it used to look, seek a Urologist as soon as possible. Early detection will help you in getting rid of it. Also, take good care of your personal hygiene to make sure that you never have to face this or any other type of cancer. 


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