The type of penile cancer treatment that a patient receives depends on the specific type of the cancer and its stage at the time of diagnosis. These factors are important to consider when treating any cancer, but especially so for treating cancers of the penis. The main reason is that some treatments are beneficial for certain types of penile cancer, but can actually be detrimental for others.
Due to the unique and sensitive nature of treating cancers of the penis, Moffitt Cancer Center’s expert oncologists design specifically tailored treatment plans for each patient. After evaluating factors such as the type, stage, size and location of a tumor, along with a patient’s reproductive plans and aesthetic preferences, our team may recommend one or more of the following penile cancer treatment options:
Surgery – This is the main form of treatment for most penile cancers. The goal is to remove as much of a tumor as possible while preserving the healthy nearby tissues. Options include laser surgery, cryosurgery, circumcision, Mohs microsurgery and wide local excision. Only in very advanced cases is more extensive surgery, such as a full or partial penectomy, required.
Radiation therapy – This can be used to destroy cancerous cells through exposure to high-energy beams. Sometimes, the beams are directed at the penis from a machine located outside the patient’s body; other times, radioactive materials are implanted in or near a tumor site. Radiation therapy is not frequently used for squamous cell cancers, as it can make them more likely to spread, but can be a treatment option for other types of penile cancer.
Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of the cancer. For certain stage 0 penile cancers, topical chemotherapy, in which medicated creams are applied directly to the skin of the penis, may be an option. Other options involve medications that are taken by mouth or injected into a vein.
Moffitt also offers patients access to some of the latest developments in penile cancer treatment through carefully monitored clinical trials. These studies allow patients to benefit from novel therapies such as radiosensitizers and biological therapies, while allowing oncologists to compare these new treatments to currently available options.