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Penile Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version
Last Modified: 03/07/2014

General Information About Penile Cancer

Incidence and Mortality
Risk Factors
Treatment Overview



Incidence and Mortality

Estimated new cases and deaths from penile (and other male genital) cancer in the United States in 2014:[1]

  • New cases: 1,640.
  • Deaths: 320.
Risk Factors

Penile cancer is rare in most developed nations, including the United States, where the rate is less than 1 per 100,000 men per year. Some studies suggest an association between human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and penile cancer.[2-5] Observational studies have shown a lower prevalence of penile HPV in men who have been circumcised (odds ratio, 0.37; 95% confidence interval, 0.16–0.85).[6] Some, but not all, observational studies also suggest that male newborn circumcision is associated with a decreased risk of penile cancer.[7,8] According to published data, if the relationship is causal, the number needed to treat was about 909 circumcisions to prevent a single case of invasive penile cancer.[9]

Treatment Overview

When diagnosed early (stage 0, stage I, and stage II), penile cancer is highly curable. Curability decreases sharply for stage III and stage IV. Because of the rarity of this cancer in the United States, clinical trials specifically for penile cancer are infrequent. Patients with stage III and stage IV cancer can be candidates for phase I and phase II clinical trials testing new drugs, biologicals, or surgical techniques to improve local control and distant metastases.

The selection of treatment depends on the following:[10,11]

  • Size.
  • Location.
  • Invasiveness.
  • Stage of the tumor.
References
  1. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2014. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2014. Available online. Last accessed May 21, 2014. 

  2. Del Mistro A, Chieco Bianchi L: HPV-related neoplasias in HIV-infected individuals. Eur J Cancer 37 (10): 1227-35, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Griffiths TR, Mellon JK: Human papillomavirus and urological tumours: I. Basic science and role in penile cancer. BJU Int 84 (5): 579-86, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Poblet E, Alfaro L, Fernander-Segoviano P, et al.: Human papillomavirus-associated penile squamous cell carcinoma in HIV-positive patients. Am J Surg Pathol 23 (9): 1119-23, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Frisch M, van den Brule AJ, Jiwa NM, et al.: HPV-16-positive anal and penile carcinomas in a young man--anogenital 'field effect' in the immunosuppressed male? Scand J Infect Dis 28 (6): 629-32, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Castellsagué X, Bosch FX, Muñoz N, et al.: Male circumcision, penile human papillomavirus infection, and cervical cancer in female partners. N Engl J Med 346 (15): 1105-12, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Schoen EJ, Oehrli M, Colby C, et al.: The highly protective effect of newborn circumcision against invasive penile cancer. Pediatrics 105 (3): E36, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Neonatal circumcision revisited. Fetus and Newborn Committee, Canadian Paediatric Society. CMAJ 154 (6): 769-80, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Christakis DA, Harvey E, Zerr DM, et al.: A trade-off analysis of routine newborn circumcision. Pediatrics 105 (1 Pt 3): 246-9, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Trabulsi DJ, Gomella LG: Cancer of the urethra and penis. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1272-79. 

  11. Chao KS, Perez CA: Penis and male urethra. In: Perez CA, Brady LW, eds.: Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1998, pp 1717-1732.