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Penile cancer

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The majority (95%) are a squamous cell carcinoma. They are rare in the UK but are frequent in the Far East and African countries. The tumour arises from the inner surface of the foreskin or glans penis in the region of the coronal sulcus i.e. between glans and prepuce. It spreads locally and frequently invades the distal urethra. The inguinal lymph nodes are commonly involved, often bilaterally, but blood borne spread is rare and late.

The condition may start as leucoplakia on the glans or may develop from an in-situ carcinoma - erythroplasia of Queryat (1)

Carcinoma is rare in the circumcised (1).

1 in 493 UK males will be diagnosed with penile cancer in their lifetime (2)

  • are around 640 new penile cancer cases in the UK every year, that's nearly 2 every day (2013-2015)
  • in males in the UK, penile cancer is not among the 20 most common cancers, with around 640 new cases in 2015
  • penile cancer accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in males in the UK (2015)
  • incidence rates for penile cancer in the UK are highest in males aged 90+ (2013-2015). Since the early 1990s, penile cancer incidence rates have increased by almost a quarter (23%) in males in the UK
  • over the last decade, penile cancer incidence rates have increased by around a fifth (21%) in males in the UK. Most penis cancers occur in the glans penis


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