The penis is an external, cylindrical male reproductive organ. Its primary function is to expel urine and semen. Two types of erectile tissue (spongy, blood vessel-filled tissue that fill with blood to form an erection) compose the penis:
- Corpora Cavernosa: This tissue composes that majority of the penis. It makes up two columns along the left and right side of the penis.
- Corpus Spongiosum: This tissue composes a single column that surrounds the urethra (a tube through which urine and semen are passed).
Connective tissues and the epidermis (skin) cover the erectile tissue, forming the penis. You can read more about the symptoms of penile cancer, penile cancer stages or the methods of treating penile cancer.
Penile cancer can occur anywhere on the penis; thus, making it of vital importance to understand the anatomy of this organ in order to better understand the various effects that penile cancer can yield. When cells displaying uncontrolled growth, invasion, and/or metastasis arise in or on the penis, a cancer may develop. These cells, having undergone an anomalous transformation that causes them to proliferate abnormally, form a structure called a neoplasm. If this neoplasm destroys adjacent tissues, and/or spreads to other areas of the body, a cancer is formed.
Penile Cancer Risk Factors
- Age: Penile cancer predominantly occurs in people over the age of 60.
- Hygiene: Having poor personal hygiene may result in the buildup of bacteria in or around the penis that may lead to cancer development.
- Tobacco Use: The inhalation of tobacco smoke and/or the chewing of tobacco leaves introduces harmful chemicals into the kidneys and bladder. From the bladder, in the form of urine, these chemicals pass through the urethra in the penis. These chemicals may lead to the development of penile cancer.
- Promiscuous Sex: Having many sexual partners may lead to the development of penile cancer.
- Phimosis: This condition, in which the foreskin cannot be pulled back over the glans (head of the penis), may lead to penile cancer development.
Penile Cancer Outlook
Penile cancer can be cured if it is detected early. Once the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the groin, it is considered incurable. However, even patients whose cancer has spread to the groin’s lymph nodes face an 85% chance of surviving for 5 years after diagnosis.
Penile Cancer Prevention
- Limit Sexual Partners: The more sexual partners a person has, the more likely they are to introduce viruses and bacteria into their body that may lead to cancer development.
- Always Wear a Condom: Condoms do not always prevent the transmission of viruses and bacteria during sexual intercourse, but they do provide additional protection against such harmful substances.
- Quit Smoking and/or Chewing Tobacco: If you are a smoker, talk to your healthcare provider about treatments, therapies, and social networks that can help you quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Quitting smoking will immediately reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that your body interacts with.