Miami Cancer Institute's genitourinary oncologists combine world-class medical expertise and compassionate care to provide the most effective treatment options for our patients. Our team has access to a range of cutting-edge technologies to diagnose and treat your specific type of cancer, allowing them to create a personalized care plan that helps address your individual needs.

Our multidisciplinary specialists consist of internationally renowned medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists who provide advanced diagnosis and treatment. Each individualized care plan includes innovative therapies and services, such as nutritional advice as well as physical rehabilitation and pain management, to address the whole patient. Not only do we focus on the treatment that is right for your type of cancer, we focus on the treatment that is right for you as an individual.

What is penile cancer?

Penile cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the penis. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes about one-third of penile cancer cases.

The penis is the external male sex organ that passes sperm out of the body. It also passes urine and is part of the urinary system.

Medical illustration of male genitourinary anatomy and prostate.

What are the types of penile cancer?

Nearly all penile cancers begin in the penis' skin cells. Approximately 95 percent of penile cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are cancers that start in the flat skin cells called squamous cells. These cancers are most often found in the foreskin or the glans (head) of the penis.

Other, less common forms of penile cancer can include:

  • Melanoma  this is an aggressive type of skin cancer that forms in the melanocytes.
  • Basal cell carcinoma  this is a slow-growing form of skin cancer that rarely spreads.
  • Adenocarcinoma  this is also known as Paget disease of the penis. It is a rare form of penile cancer that can form in the sweat glands in the penis skin.
  • Sarcoma  this is a cancer that can form in the smooth muscle, blood vessels or other connective tissue in the penis.

What are the risk factors for penile cancer?

Researchers believe that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the main risk factors for penile cancer. HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses that can cause warts on the body, especially in the genital area. HPV has also been linked to several types of cancer, and roughly one-third of all penile cancers are believed to be caused by HPV.

Men who are not circumcised at birth are at a higher risk for developing penile cancer. Doctors are not clear on why this is the case, but they believe it is because it is related to other risk factors for penile cancer. For example, men who are not circumcised are more likely to be infected with HPV and develop other conditions linked to penile cancer.

Other risk factors for penile cancer include:

  • Having phimosis. This is a condition where the foreskin is tight and difficult to retract, making it hard to clean the head of the penis. Secretions under the foreskin can build up to form a substance called smegma, which is also a risk factor for penile cancer.
  • Having many sexual partners
  • Using tobacco
  • Having poor personal hygiene
  • Being over the age of 60
  • Having AIDS

What can you do to prevent penile cancer?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer. However, you can reduce your risk for penile cancer by:

  • Getting circumcised
  • Practicing good genital hygiene if you are not circumcised
  • Practicing safe sex by using protection (such as condoms) and limiting your sexual partners
  • Not using tobacco. Speak with your doctor if you need help quitting
What makes us unique?

What makes us unique?

Miami Cancer Institute is Florida's only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance and the only cancer center in the world to offer you all of the latest radiation therapy modalities in one place.

Have questions? We're here to help.

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