Cancer » Penile Cancer
Penile or penis cancer is one of the rare types of cancers originating in males. It is rare in the developed nations like the United States of America but occurs commonly in the Asian, South American and African nations. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer in Uganda. Though the cases of penile cancer are rare, any abnormality in the penis or other adjacent areas must be diagnosed immediately. The cancer can be fatal if ignored for a long time as the malignant cells have a tendency to metastasize. Penis is found only in males and thus, only males are prone to the disease. The cancer usually occurs in males above 60 years of age.
Penis cancer in detail
Penile or penis cancer is a kind of cancer and thus, develops gradually due to the abnormal behavior of cells. The infection becomes intense when the cancerous cells begin to metastasize. Penis cancer can be of various forms as sarcomas, adenocarcinoma, basal cell penile cancer, melanomas and squamous cell carcinoma. The most common type of this cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.
Penis is an important part of the male body as its main function is to pass urine and sperms. It is also the main reproductive organ. The organ consists of two main types of tissues as corpus spongiosum and corpora cavernosa. Corpus spongiosum forms only a small part of the penis. Most of the penile portion is covered by the corpora cavernosa.
Almost 9 out of 10 cases of penis cancer are of the form of squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are the kind of cells found mostly on the surface areas of penis and thus, the cancerous cells develop primarily on the surface tissues. Penis's head and foreskin are most prone to the cancerous attack. The cancerous of malignant cells target the squamous cells that show minimum resistance and spread the infection thereon. After being invaded by the cancerous cells, the affected squamous cells start behaving abnormally and bring about a rapid growth and division of cells. The cancerous cells also attack the healthy tissues and prevent their proper functioning. Tissues are the main suppliers of blood and oxygen and play a vital role to ensure normal cell-growth. If such tissues are not allowed to do their work, the adjacent cells start reacting weirdly and create an environment conducive for spread of cancerous cells. This leads to generation of excess cells in the body, most of which are cancerous, and prevents the normal cells from dying normally. These excess cells accumulate in a particular area and a lump is formed. This lump is generally known as tumor. Tumors have tendency to metastasize and may spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph node.
Tumors formed due to cancerous cells are generally known as cancerous tumors. However, there are other kinds of tumors that may look like the cancerous ones but are not harmful to the body. Benign tumors rarely metastasize and are easy to eliminate. They can be removed by surgery and show rare chances of redevelopment. Also, they are not harmful to tissues or cells. On the other hand, cancerous cells are very difficult to eliminate as they metastasize and recur frequently. Also, they can damage cells and tissues badly and prevent that particular organ from functioning normally.
Benign tumors may turn cancerous if not treated in time. They may also create conditions suitable for cancerous cells to grow without any considerable resistance from the body cells or tissues. In some cases, benign tumors may also be the pre-cancerous tumors and need to be diagnosed thoroughly.
Penile or penis cancer important facts
Persons who are circumcised at birth or in the young age are rarely prone to penile cancer. This is the main reason for low rate of penis cancer in the nations like the United States of America where circumcising a person right at his birth is a common practice. Also, the persons who undergo circumcision during the puberty period are only slightly prone to the disease. But the ones who undergo circumcision in the adult age have no proven advantages of being less prone to the cancer.
Presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most severe causes of the disease. The virus develops or transfers in a person's body through unsafe sex practices and having multiple sex partners. Undergoing body examination techniques like biopsy, endoscopy and ultrasound can be advantageous to detect the presence of HPV and know whether it has lead to development of cancerous cells. Some may also opt for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan and PET test (positron emission tomography). Unclean penal areas, fungus or infection in the penis or the adjacent areas, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or untreated injuries in the penile area may benefit the cancerous cells to develop more rapidly.
Body's immune system is another important cause of the development and metastasis of cancerous tumors. Strong immune system resists the development of malignant cells right in the pre-cancerous stage and prevents further damage. Persons suffering from phimosis are also at risk and need to pay special attention to penile health. Frequent infection in the penis (especially near the foreskin), sore or lump in the penile area, redness or skin irritation, white patches and frequent unusual discharge under the foreskin are some of the basic symptoms of the penile or penis cancer. CT (computed tomography) scans and X-rays are some of the primary techniques to detect the presence of tumors and the areas affected. Smoking and over-consumption of alcohol is not a direct cause of this cancer but it severely affects the immunity system and makes you more susceptible to infections.
Penile or penis cancer is curable if detected in early stages. Circumcision is the most common form of surgery recommended for the cases in which the cancer is limited to the foreskin. Radiation therapy and therapy by chemicals are some other common cancer treatments.