Penile Cancer–for patients

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The penis is the male sex organ that passes sperm and urine from the body. The glans (head of the penis) is covered with loose skin called the foreskin.

The most common type of penile cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells in the top layer of the skin). It usually forms on or under the foreskin. Signs of penile cancer include sores or other skin changes, discharge, and bleeding.

Infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) causes about one-third of penile cancer cases. Circumcision (removal of the foreskin) may help prevent infection with HPV and decrease the risk of penile cancer. When found early, penile cancer can usually be cured.

Anatomy of the  male reproductive and urinary systems showing the prostate, penis, testicles, bladder, and other organs.

Causes & Prevention

NCI does not have PDQ evidence-based information about prevention of penile cancer.
More information


NCI does not have PDQ evidence-based information about screening for penile cancer.
More information