It could be an allergy or infection. Or it could be something more serious. That’s why it’s worth getting checked for all of these things, including penile cancer. If found early, treatment can be very successful for this rare cancer.
At Cleveland Clinic, we know that finding out you have penile cancer can be overwhelming. And it could leave you wondering what’s next. That’s why our dedicated healthcare providers focus on you and your well-being. We’re here for you with the newest, most advanced treatments and compassionate support to help you keep living life to the fullest.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Penile Cancer Treatment?
Patient-centered care:You’re the star player on our team. And that’s where we put our focus. Your providers will work together to craft a treatment plan that works best for you and your life. Meet our team.
Our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive treatments for penile cancer. When possible, they’ll work to save your penis so you can have as much normal use of it as possible.
Cleveland Clinic is home to some of the nation’s leading urologic cancer specialists. We know what it takes to quickly diagnose and treat various types and stages of penile cancer.
We know that cancer profoundly affects your life. That’s why we’ll also help you cope emotionally. Support groups, survivorship programs and social services are a few ways we’ll guide you and your family through this journey.
At Cleveland Clinic, we’ll care for you before, during and after your penile cancer treatment. From sperm banking for fertility preservation to complex penile reconstruction, we’re here to support you every step of the way.
We understand that the side effects of cancer treatment can sometimes make leaving home to meet with your provider challenging. That’s why you can often schedule some of your regular follow-up appointments as virtual visits. Talk to your provider from the comfort of your couch using your computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s a quick and convenient way to get the care you need when you need it.
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named us a top hospital in the world.
Penile Cancer Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
Penile cancer has excellent outcomes when found and treated early. Our experienced providers know how to spot the first signs of this uncommon cancer. They’ll quickly meet with you, run tests and review the results. Then, they’ll build a treatment plan that matches what you need.
When you first come to see us, your provider will look at your penis. Be ready to point out any changes you’ve noticed — like a lump or a change in skin color. They’ll also talk with you about your health history and lifestyle habits, including if you smoke and if you practice safe sex.
Because a biopsy is the only way to confirm if you have penile cancer, your provider will likely remove some suspicious tissue from your penis. Our team will look at these samples under a microscope to see if they can spot any cancer cells. Depending on the type of biopsy, you might have it in your provider’s office. Or you might have it in an operating room. If you do, you’ll be asleep for it and will likely go home the same day.
Taking pictures using different imaging tools can also help us learn more about your cancer and see if it’s spread to other areas of your body. We might order X-rays, a PET scan, an MRI, ultrasounds or a CT scan to dive deeper into getting the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
Getting a second opinion for penile cancer
No one ever wants to hear they have cancer. And when it’s an uncommon condition, like penile cancer, you might be left wondering how to make sure you get the best care. That’s why at Cleveland Clinic, we encourage second opinions. We want you to feel confident that your cancer care team is the best. You can trust our highly skilled providers to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. We can help confirm a diagnosis and offer our expert advice on treatment options. And we always try to get your appointment scheduled as soon as possible.
You don’t have to worry that you’ll upset your current provider if you meet with us, either. We regularly consult with other providers, and we’ll never do anything to harm your relationship with them.
When it comes to your care, you want to feel in control. A second opinion can give you peace of mind knowing that you’re in the most capable and compassionate hands.
Who Treat Penile Cancer
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Penile Cancer Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
We plan your treatment based on the type of penile cancer you have and its stage (if and how far the cancer has spread). We also consider your age, lifestyle and treatment goals. And we’ll work to minimize side effects and try to help you pee and have sex as normally as possible so you can maintain your quality of life.
Penile cancer surgery
Surgery is the most common treatment for penile cancer. Depending on your cancer, we may recommend:
- Circumcision: We might be able to treat early-stage cancer that’s only on your foreskin by using This surgery removes the skin on the head of your penis.
- Simple or wide local excision: We’ll remove the tumor and some of the healthy tissue around it. Depending on the size of your tumor, we’ll stitch the healthy skin back together or use a skin graft (usually from your thigh or belly) to cover the wound.
- Mohs surgery: Early-stage cancer that has only penetrated the top layers of your skin may be treated with Mohs surgery. We gradually remove the skin in the affected area layer by layer until no cancerous cells are left. This can preserve more healthy tissue than a deeper cut. It also lowers the risk of changing how your penis will look or work. Our plastic and dermatologic surgeons are experts in this highly sophisticated technique.
- Glansectomy: If cancer is only on the head of your penis (glans), we may be able to remove it with a glansectomy. In most cases, you’ll be able to pee normally and have an erection after this procedure.
- Penectomy: If you have more advanced penile cancer, we may need to remove part or all of your penis. A partial penectomy removes the head of your penis and some of the shaft. A total penectomy removes your penis, its shaft and some of the root that goes into your pelvis. We’ll also reroute your urethra so you can pee.
- Lymph node surgery: Advanced penile cancer can enter the lymph nodes in your groin. If this happens, we’ll take out those lymph nodes using minimally invasive robotic techniques whenever possible.
Nonsurgical penile cancer treatments
We might also treat your cancer with other therapies instead of or along with surgery. The therapy you have depends on your health, the type of cancer you have, how far along it is and if it has spread to other parts of your body.
- Topical therapy: For patients with early stage penile cancer, medicated creams can sometimes be an effective treatment option.
- Chemotherapy: You may get chemotherapy in combination with surgery, radiation therapy or both. Chemotherapy can be taken as a pill or given through a needle in a vein in your arm or as cream applied directly to your skin (topical). Topical chemotherapy may destroy penile cancer cells in the top layers of your skin.
- Laser ablation: Laser ablation uses powerful beams of light to destroy cancer cells in your skin’s top layers. We may recommend this treatment if you decide not to have surgery.
- Radiation therapy: Our specialists may recommend radiation therapy before surgery to shrink a tumor before removing it. Or we might recommend you have it after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Sometimes we can even treat small, early-stage tumors with radiation instead of surgery.
Penile reconstruction after cancer treatment
You might want to have penile reconstruction after cancer treatment to improve the appearance of your penis. In some cases, reconstructive surgery can also bring back some feeling or function in your penis. We may use soft tissue grafts, penile implants and other techniques to do the reconstruction. Your providers will talk with you about what could work best for you.
Taking the Next Step
Finding out you have penile cancer can be a shock. You might feel angry, worried, scared or all of the above. But the sooner you get treatment, the better chance you have for a good outcome. Cleveland Clinic healthcare providers know what it takes to make this happen. From diagnosis to treatment and beyond, we’re here for you at every step of your cancer journey — physically and emotionally.
Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s penile cancer experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.
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Learning you have cancer can be stressful, shocking and challenging. From the moment you get the news, you're a survivor. As you face the challenges that go along with cancer treatment and recovery — physical and emotional — we’ll be right there with you.
At Cleveland Clinic, survivorship care is one part of your journey. We offer a wide range of services, resources, clinics and support groups to help with any physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs you might have related to your cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand along the way, we want you to not only survive, but thrive on this journey and beyond.