Penis cancer is thankfully a rare occurrence in industrialized countries. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,640 new cases are predicted to appear in the U.S. in 2014. However, while this represents only a minute portion of the population, the men who are affected – as well as their families – can be devastated by this potentially deadly disease. Therefore, all men should understand the risk factors, along with being on the lookout for the symptoms, as a proactive way of taking charge of their penis health. Some important questions about penis cancer are answered here.
What does penis cancer look like? Penis cancer occurs when malignant cells develop in the penile tissue. Cancer of the penis may be characterized by redness, irritation, swelling, sores and lumps or spots on the penis, among other symptoms.
It is important to keep in mind that many of these symptoms can indicate numerous other, mostly benign conditions. Men who experience any of these should never jump to the conclusion that they have cancer; remember that it is a rare disease, and chances are that the explanation is much simpler.
However, it is also important to see a doctor as soon as possible when any of these symptoms appear. While they may not be cancer, they may still need treatment, and it is best to identify the source of the problem as quickly as possible.
How is it diagnosed? A cancer diagnosis usually involves taking a biopsy of the affected tissue. A small sample of tissue is taken, often under a local anesthetic, and it is viewed under a microscope for signs of changes at the cellular level that might indicate a malignancy.
Who is at risk? The overall chances for developing penile cancer are quite small. However, there are certain issues that can put men at greater risk. These include:
* A family history of cancer, especially penile cancer;
* Being uncircumcised;
* Being infected by HPV;
* Having poor personal hygiene;
* Having past problems with phimosis.
What are the treatment options? The most common type of treatment for cancer is surgery, in which the abnormal tissue is removed. Circumcision, removal of wide patches of skin or even amputation may be considered, depending on the extent and stage of the tumor(s).
Men may also undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy or slow the growth of the malignancy. Another type of treatment is biologic therapy, in which a man’s own immune system is stimulated to combat cancer cells. Various clinical trials are underway at any given time, and a man may decide along with his doctor to try one of these under certain circumstances.
What is the prognosis for penis cancer patients? The outcome of cancer treatment depends on numerous factors, including the stage and location of the cancer and a man’s age and overall health.
As with any other type of cancer, there are no guarantees when it comes to prevention. Fortunately, the disease is rare, and most men will never have to deal with it. However, some simple precautions can reduce the risks, especially in men who have a family history of the disease. The good news is that these steps are part of an overall healthy lifestyle – so everyone can benefit from them.
A healthy diet is a big part of cancer prevention. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed and packaged items is a good start, and maintaining a healthy balance between carbohydrates, “good” fats and lean protein is important as well. Men should also drink plenty of water to keep the cells of the body in good working order, as well as helping to flush harmful waste products from the system.
Circumcision may be an option, especially for men who are at an increased risk. Since at least half of all cancer cases are related to the HPV virus, vaccination is strongly recommended by health care professionals.
Frequent self-checks for changes in the skin and underlying tissue are also important – early detection is essential to successful treatment. Men may also choose to support their overall penile health with the addition of a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) to their hygiene regimen. Applying a cream containing antioxidants and other important nutrients can support healthy function of the cells and may help to prevent damage to the penile tissue.