Search Results
Share This:
Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

What Is Penile Cancer?

Illustration of  the anatomy of the male reproductive tract
Click Image to Enlarge

What is cancer?

Cancer is when cells in the body change and grow out of control. To help you understand what happens when you have cancer, it helps to understand how your body works normally. Your body is made up of tiny building blocks called cells. Normal cells grow and multiply when your body needs them, and die out when your body does not need them any longer.

Cancer is made up of abnormal cells that grow, whether or not your body needs them. In most cancers, the abnormal cells grow to form a lump or mass called a tumor.

What is penile cancer?

Cancer that starts in cells in the penis is called penile cancer. Penile cancer is rare in the U.S. Most penile cancer (about 95%) is squamous cell carcinoma. This means the cancer begins in the flat skin cells (squamous cells) of the penis. Most squamous cell penile cancers begin on the foreskin or on the tip of the penis (glans). Squamous cell penile cancer grows slowly. It can usually be cured if it is found early.

About the penis

The penis is part of the external male genitalia. It contains many types of tissue, including skin, nerves, smooth muscle, and blood vessels. The urethra is inside the penis. The urethra is the tube through which urine and semen leave the body. The tip of the penis is called the glans. The foreskin (prepuce) covers the glans. Every male has a foreskin at birth. Circumcision is the removal of part or the entire foreskin on the penis at birth or later on in life.

Talk with your healthcare provider

If you have questions about penile cancer, talk with your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you understand more about this cancer.


Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Welch, Annette, MNS, OCN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/2/2015
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
Find a Doctor
Follow Us
About StayWell