Although rare, penile cancer is a serious disease. Early detection and treatment is critical. Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of penile cancer. Other options include radiation and chemotherapy. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may increase the risk of penile cancer. Condom use and the HPV vaccine can help prevent infection with HPV. Let’s look at the signs and symptoms of penile cancer.
NOTE: As always, if you suspect you may have a medical condition, including penile cancer, see a medical professional immediately. Although the signs and symptoms listed below may not be related to cancer, they may also be symptoms of another medical condition that requires professional care. Always err on the side of caution, when it comes to the health of your penis.
Penile Skin Changes
Oftentimes one of the first signs of penile cancer can be seen with the skin of the penis. The glans of the penis (or the foreskin for uncircumcised men) is the most common starting point, but symptoms can also sometimes be seen on the shaft of the penis. These penis cancer symptoms include:
- A thicker area of skin on the penis that may or may not be a different color
- A lump under the skin of the penis
- A sore (ulcer) that may bleed
- A velvety, reddish rash
- Bumps on the skin that are small and crusty
- Bluish-brown growths that are flat, on the penis’ skin
- Smelly discharge coming from under the foreskin
Penile cancer sores or lumps are sometimes not painful, but they may be, in some cases. Again, as noted above, if you see any new growth or penis abnormality, it’s always best to have it checked out by your medical professional, even if it’s not painful.
Swelling of the Penis
Another sign of penile cancer may be swelling at the end of the penis. This is especially true if the foreskin is constricted.
Lumps Under the Skin in the Groin Area
If cancer has spread from the penis, it typically first spreads to the groin lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-sized collections of immune system cells. Normally, they cannot be easily felt. However, when they swell, they can be felt as lumps under the skin.
Please note, swollen lymph nodes do not always mean cancer. Most commonly, swollen lymph nodes are a sign of infection. Even if penile cancer is present, swollen lymph nodes may simply be a sign that the body is fighting off a related infection. Either way, if you notice lymph node swelling, it’s always best to seek out medical advice.