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Symptoms of Penile Cancer

Symptoms of penile cancer can get worse as the cancer grows. However, many penile cancer symptoms are also symptoms of other infections and diseases. Therefore, it is important that anyone who experiences common symptoms of penile cancer, see their primary health care provider immediately. If penile cancer is detected during the initial stages of the disease, it can most likely be treated successfully. The initial penile cancer symptoms include any abnormalities in the appearance of the penis.

Penile cancer will usually cause the penis to change color. The penis will usually turn red, but the changes in appearance of the penis should not cause any pain or discomfort. After the penis changes appearance, as the penile cancer continues to grow and develop, a small lump or bulge may appear. Lumps usually grow on the foreskin of the penis of men who are not circumcised. Men who have penile cancer, that are circumcised, may develop a lump on the glans of the penis, better known as the head.
Still these penile cancer symptoms should remain virtually painless. If the penile cancer patient does not get screened for the disease and the cancer continues to spread through out the penis and eventually into the lymph nodes, the penile cancer symptoms will continue to develop. In advanced stages of the disease, penile cancer may cause a negative scented discharge which will usually leak underneath the foreskin. While it may be rare, once penile cancer spreads into the lymph nodes around the groin, that area may start to feel tender and painful which is due to the lymph nodes becoming swollen. While most penile cancer symptoms do not cause any pain or discomfort, they can be very noticeable. This should make it clear to the patient that something is wrong and that they should be screened by their primary health care provider as soon as possible. Penile cancer is easier to treat successfully if it is detected during the initial stages of the disease.
Penile Cancer Prognosis: Penile cancer prognosis is a prediction made by a health care provider about the likely course of the disease in the patient and the patient's chance of survival. Penile cancer is very rare, and most cases that are detected during the disease's early stages are successfully treated. However, a penile cancer prognosis depends on a lot of different factors. Some of these factors only concern the patient, while others only concern the disease. The particular case of penile cancer plays an important role in determining the prognosis. The health care provider has to consider what stage the cancer is in when it is detected, as well as the grade of the cancer. If the disease is detected early, it can most likely be completely removed through surgery. However, if the penile cancer is advanced and metastasis has occurred, then surgery will not be able to treat the disease. This will result in a negative prognosis. The penile cancer patient will also influence the prognosis of the disease. Factors relating to the patient that play a big role in determining the penile cancer prognosis can include the patient's age, their overall general health, their medical history, as well as their family medical history. An important factor that will influence the long term prognosis is how the patient responds to the preferred method, or methods, of treatment. For example, if the penile cancer is advanced, and cannot be completely removed through surgery, the patient's health care provider may choose to use chemotherapy to treat the disease. However, many cancer patients do not respond well to chemotherapy drugs and this may force the health care provider to choose a different method of treatment that may not be as effective.
Once all of the information is gathered from these different variables, the patient's health care provider will provide the patient with a penile cancer prognosis. While the penile cancer prognosis is a good indication of how the disease will progress, the patient should not take the prognosis as an exact guideline. No matter how experienced the health care provider is with penile cancer, there is always a risk of the cancer to start growing rapidly, and/or to spread to distant parts of the body. Every case of penile cancer, like most types of cancer, is unique and no two cases of the disease will grow the same way. Therefore, it is important for penile cancer patients to listen to, and follow their health care providers directions and suggestions regarding treatment and lifestyle changes.
Penile Cancer Prevention: Even though exact causes of penile cancer are not completely understood, there are still several measures people can take to help prevent the disease. Statistics and studies show links between penile cancer and HPV infections, as well as tobacco smoking and personal hygiene. Penile cancer research used to suggest that men who were not circumcised, had a much bigger risk of getting penile cancer. However, more recent studies and clinical trials have proven that theory to be wrong. Medical experts and researchers feel that the studies suggest this old theory did not take other risk factors into consideration, that we now know exist. One of the easiest ways to prevent penile cancer is to maintain good genital hygiene. This can be more difficult for uncircumcised men because they have to pull back the foreskin in order to clean the entire penis. This can lead to parts of the penis not being cleaned properly when the penis is not erect. As with many other types of cancer, studies suggest that there is a link between smoking tobacco and penile cancer. While the link is not completely understood, statistics show that men who smoke tobacco are much more likely to develop penile cancer. Like other forms of cancer in the human reproductive organs, there is a connection between penile cancer and HPV infections. HPV infections are sexually transmitted diseases. Since abstinence is not always a likely scenario, health care providers suggest that men wait until they are older to start engaging in sexual activity.
Types of Penile Cancer: The external male reproductive organ, known as the penis, is constructed of many distinct types of tissue. Therefore, the type of penile cancer that an individual may get, all depends on what type of tissue the cancer grows on. The most common type of penile cancer is squamous cell cancer of the penis. Other types of penile cancer include adenocarcinoma, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and sarcoma. However, these types are very uncommon. Since the disease itself is very rare in the United States, there are very few actual cases of these types of penile cancer in our country. As with most cancers, penile cancers start out as small tumors in the penis. Many of these are benign tumors. Benign tumors are not cancerous, meaning they will not spread and are dormant. Tumors that do continue to grow and are not benign tumors, then become cancerous. Squamous cell cancer of the penis accounts for about ninety percent of all cases of penile cancer. Squamous cells cover most of the human skin, including the penis. Cancers in squamous cells can form on any part of the penis. However, most cases of squamous cell cancer of the penis occurs on the glans, or head, and on the foreskin of men who are not circumcised. Unlike many other types of cancers, squamous cell cancers do not rapidly grow. Instead, after the cancer initially forms, it usually takes multiple years for the cancer to grow and develop. This is why most cases of penile cancer are treatable, especially if it is detected during the early stages of the disease. Metastasis, meaning the cancer has spread to distant body parts, is very uncommon in squamous cell cancers. Penile cancer that forms in the cells that create sweat on the surface of the penis, is known as adenocarcinoma. These celles are called glandular cells. However, this type of penile cancer is very rare, accounting for less than six percent of all penile cancers. Other types of penile cancer like melanoma, sarcoma and basal cell carcinoma are extremely rare, for almost no cases of these types of penile cancer occur in the United States.
Penile cancer Diagnosis: Most cases of penile cancer are clearly noticeable due to changes in the color of the penis, as well as moles that may develop on the penis as a result of the disease. These symptoms of penile cancer are much more obvious than symptoms of many other cancers, making it easier for people with the disease to know when to get screened for the disease. Most cases of penile cancer are diagnosed by a biopsy. There are also multiple different types of imaging tests that can help a doctor diagnose the disease as well. If penile cancer is diagnosed during its early stages, it will most likely be successfully treated with surgery. This is why it is important for men who notice a change in appearance of their penis to see their primary health care provider as soon as possible. Biopsy A biopsy is a surgical procedure used to screen for diseases. A health care provider will collect a sample of tissue from the infected area of the penis. Once the tissue sample is removed, it will be examined under a microscope. If cancer cells exist, they will be clearly visible when viewed under the microscope. If the patient's health care provider feels that the penile cancer may have spread into the lymph nodes on either side of the groin, they can be removed during a biopsy and viewed under a microscope as well. Imaging Tests There are many different types of imaging tests that can be used to diagnose penile cancer. These tests use X ray and magnetic technology, as well as sound waves to produce images inside the penis. If the patient has penile cancer, most cases will be visible in these images. Imaging tests that are used to diagnose penile cancer include a CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and an ultrasound. A CT scan uses X ray technology to produce full images of the inside of the penis. Instead of taking one single picture, the scanning machine takes multiple pictures while it moves around the penis. Once the machine is done taking the pictures, it combines all of them together. An MRI scanner uses radio wave and magnetic technology to produce images of the tissue inside of the penis. For an ultrasound, a small device called a transducer, sends out sound waves which bounce off of the tissue of the penis. The sound waves that bounce back are then converted into images that are viewed on the ultrasound machine.
Penile Cancer Staging: Like most other types of cancer, penile cancer staging uses the American Joint Committee on Cancer's TNM system. The system is simple and easy to understand. T stands for tumor, and is paired with numbers 1 through 4 to indicate how much the tumor has grown (1 being the smallest and 4 being large in size). N stands for nodes, as in lymph nodes and is also paired with numbers 1 through 3. M stands for metastasis, which means that the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. M is paired with either 0 or 1, because there are no levels of metastasis. Instead, metastasis has either occurred or not yet occurred. A combination between different levels of T, N and M are what make up the cancer stages. In some unique cases of penile cancer, there are sub-stages such as stage 3 a or b. Cancer Stages: Stage 1: T1, N0, M0                    The penile cancer is only present in the surface layer of the skin on the penis. Stage 2: T1-3, N0, M0 The penile cancer has spread into the tissue right underneath the surface layer of the penis, into the corpus spongiosum or corpora cavernosum, and may have grown into the urethra. The cancer has not spread into the lymph node system Stage 3: T1-3, N1-2, M0 The penile cancer has spread into all tissues of the penis, possibly the corpus spongiosum, corpus cavernosum, and urethra. The cancer has also spread to more than one lymph node in the groin. Stage 4: T1-4, N1-3, M0-1 The penile cancer has grow into the lymph node system in the groin and possibly near the pelvis. The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the prostate or other surrounding organs
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