Penile cancer is more treatable if it's found early.
The treatment you need will depend on:
- the size and type of penile cancer you have
- where it is
- if it has spread
- your age and general health
Treatment for early cancer often involves non-surgical treatments, for example, a chemotherapy cream such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and laser therapy.
If the cancer is found later, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
You’ll have a specialist team made up of doctors and nurses, and other health professionals if needed.
Your team will explain your treatments including all your regular check-ups during and after treatments, plus tests and scans if you need them. They will support you throughout.
If you're worried about anything, talk to your team. You do not need to wait for your next check-up to ask any questions.
Penile cancer is more treatable if it’s found early when it has not spread.
Treatment can include destroying the cancer cells with:
- chemotherapy creams
- laser treatments
- cold therapy to freeze the cells (cryotherapy)
You may also have an operation to remove either:
- the affected area of your penis
- the skin that covers the tip of your penis (the foreskin), which is called a circumcision
Surgery for penile cancer can include removing:
- the cancer and a small area around it to reduce the risk of it coming back
- the top layer of skin from the head (glans) of the penis
- the head of the penis
- part or sometimes all of the penis, but this is only offered if no other treatment is possible
- some lymph nodes, which are part of the body’s system that helps fight off infections
Recovery from some of these surgeries may take time.
Surgery may affect how your penis looks, such as the size or shape.
This may affect how you feel about your body. You may have many questions and worries about how you'll pee or have sex.
The specialist team looking after you can answer any questions you have about your surgery.
They'll explain exactly what surgery means for you, how it will affect you and what your options are.
Reconstructive surgery may be possible if your penis needs to be removed. This uses skin and muscle from other parts of the body to create a working penis.
Find out more
Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells.
You may have chemotherapy for penile cancer:
- with radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)
- before surgery to help make the cancer smaller
- after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might be left behind
- if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays of radiation to kill cancer cells.
You may have radiotherapy for penile cancer:
- with chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)
- instead of surgery
- after surgery if there’s a risk that cancer cells are left in the groin
- to treat the lymph nodes in the pelvis if there's a high risk of the cancer coming back
Your team should include support staff and a counsellor or therapist who you can talk to.
The men’s cancer charity Orchid has a national helpline on 0808 802 0010 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30 am to 5.30 pm).