Cancer of the penis

Anna Maria Mosconi, Fausto Roila, Gemma Gatta, Christine Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer of the penis is rare in Europe, accounting for less than 0.5% of all cancers. Phimosis and poor hygiene are strong risk factors whereas neonatal circumcision is a contributing factor in the prevention of this disease. More than 95% of penile carcinomas are squamous cell carcinomas. Early disease (stage I-II) is curable in most patients, who can be treated by conventional penile amputation or, in selected cases, by organ preserving techniques, including Moh's micrographic surgery, laser ablation or radiation therapy (external-beam, brachytherapy). For more advanced primary tumours, penile amputation is required. Survival of patients with penile cancer is strongly related to the presence and extent of nodal metastases. Bilateral inguinal lymphadenectomy is recommended for palpable lymph nodes that persist 3 or more weeks after removal of the primary tumour and a course of antibiotic therapy. In patients with proven inguinal lymph node metastases, bilateral ileoinguinal dissection should be performed. When the nodes are clinically negative, "prophylactic" inguinal lymphadenectomy may be a reasonable approach in patients with invasive tumours (T2 or greater), high grade tumours, or tumours exhibiting vascular invasion. The role of chemotherapy, as adjuvant and neoadjuvant or primary treatment in metastatic disease, needs to be further explored in prospective clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Penis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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