Symptoms and Signs of Penile Cancer (Penis Cancer)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/1/2021

Doctor's Notes on Penile Cancer (Penis Cancer)

Penile cancer occurs when the cells in the penis start to grow abnormally. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may increase the risk of developing penile cancerCircumcision may help prevent infection with HPV. Other risk factors for developing penile cancer include being age 60 or older, having phimosis (a condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back over the glans), poor personal hygiene, many sexual partners, and use of tobacco products. 

Skin changes on the penis may be the first signs of penile cancer. These signs include:

  • thickening skin on the penis,
  • changes in skin color,
  • reddish velvety rash under the foreskin,
  • small crusty bumps,
  • bluish-brown growths, and
  • smelly discharge under the foreskin.

What Is the Treatment for Penile Cancer?

Treatment of penile cancer depends on the stage, or extent of spread, of the tumor:

  • Some tumors may be fully removed by surgery, and surgery may include removal of lymph nodes in the groin
  • In more advanced stages, chemotherapy may be given following surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy may also be used following surgery to remove the tumor
  • Newer types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials, and participation in one of these trials is another treatment option


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.