What Is Penile Cancer?

Illustration of  the anatomy of the male reproductive tract
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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, the tube through which urine and semen leave the body, is inside the penis. The tip of the penis is called the glans. The foreskin, or 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.

Penile cancer is rarely found in men in the United States. Although there are different types of penile cancer, about 95 percent are squamous cell carcinoma. This means they begin in the flat skin cells of the penis, called squamous cells.

Most squamous cell penile cancers begin on the foreskin or on the glans.

Squamous cell penile cancer is slow-growing and can usually be cured if found early.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 11/10/2013
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