Penile Cancer Prevention & Early Detection

  • Roberto Pili, MD, Chief, Genitourinary Section and Thomas Schwaab, MD, PhD are members of the multidisciplinary team that treats penile cancer.

Penile cancer is rare, so many patients are unfamiliar with the symptoms and risk factors. Being familiar with the symptoms and risk factors for penile cancer will allow for earlier detection and more successful treatment.

Risk Factors

No one knows the exact causes of this disease. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop penile cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. Studies have found the following risk factors for penile cancer:

  • HPV Infection: The human papilloma virus is sexually transmitted and puts men at increased risk.
  • Uncircumcised Penis: The reason for this is unknown, but may relate to the fact that men who have not undergone circumcision may be more likely to contract HPV.
  • Age: Men age 60 or older have an increased risk.
  • Phimosis: A condition in which the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back over the glans.
  • Having many sexual partners
  • Poor penile hygiene
  • Tobacco use