Cancer is a life-threatening condition where cells in the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably, destroying surrounding healthy tissue and organs. There’s currently no cure, so recognising the signs in the early stages is very important. Penile cancer is a rare type of cancer, but one where its symptoms can be easily overlooked. There are six symptoms specifically linked to penile cancer, according to the NHS.
Any abnormalities with the penis should raise concern. The health body lists the following symptoms:
- A growth or sore on the penis that doesn’t heal within four weeks
- Bleeding from the penis or from under the foreskin
- A foul-smelling discharge
- Thickening of the skin of the penis or foreskin that makes it difficult to draw back the foreskin
- A change in the colour of the skin of the penis or foreskin
- A rash on the penis
It advises: “If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to see your GP as soon as possible It’s unlikely they’ll be caused by penile cancer, but they need to be investigated.
“Any delay in diagnosing penile cancer could reduce the chances of successful treatment.”
What causes penile cancer?
The exact cause of penile cancer is unknown, but experts say there are several risk factors.
Cancer Research says age, having a weakened immune system, and an uncircumcised penis are risk factors for the disease.
Penile cancer is more common in men aged 50 and over. It adds: “It is rare in men under the age of 40.”
Having a weakened immune system
The immune system is integral for fighting in section and disease in the body.
It adds: “You may be at higher risk of penile cancer if you have a weakened immune system, and other cancers.”
The reason is not clear, but men with phimosis have a higher risk of penile cancer than other men.
Phimosis is when uncircumcised men find it difficult to draw back their foreskin.
Many men with this choose to have a circumcision, which is a small operation to remove part or all of the foreskin.
It says uncircumcised men may be at higher risk as “it may relate to other known risk factors, including a build-up of secretions under the foreskin”.
When it comes to more general symptoms of all times of cancer, there are seven to note other than a lump.