Risks for penile cancer
Certain behaviours, substances or conditions can affect your risk, or chance, of developing cancer. Some things increase your risk and some things decrease it. Most cancers are the result of many risks. But sometimes cancer develops in people who don't have any risks.
Having an HPV infection is the main risk for penile cancer.
Penile cancer not common in Canada. While it can develop at any age, the risk usually increases with age. Penile cancer most often happens in men older than 60 years of age.
Precancerous conditions of the penis include penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PeIN) and balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO). They are not cancer, but they can sometimes lead to
The following can increase your risk for penile cancer. There are things you can do to lower your risk and help protect you from developing cancer.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a virus that can cause warts (called papillomas) on different parts of the body, including the genitals. HPV infections are very common because the virus is easily passed by skin-to-skin contact with any HPV-infected area of the body. It is mainly spread through sexual contact, including oral sex.
Not being circumcised @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Circumcision is removal of the foreskin of the penis. Men who were circumcised as newborns or children seem to develop penile cancer less often than men who were circumcised later. Being circumcised as an adult does not appear to provide any protection against penile cancer.
Although there is evidence that circumcision at a young age lowers the risk for penile cancer, there is not enough evidence to recommend it as a way of preventing the disease. The Canadian Paediatric Society does not recommend routine circumcision of every newborn boy. Decisions about circumcision are highly personal and often depend on religion and culture more than medical reasons.
In men who are not circumcised, the foreskin of the penis may become thick and tight and difficult to pull back (retract). This condition is called phimosis. Phimosis makes it harder to clean the penis well and may lead to infections or chronic inflammation.
Men with BXO often develop phimosis. They may have an even greater risk of developing penile cancer than men with phimosis alone.
Poor genital hygiene @(Model.HeadingTag)>
When a man isn't circumcised, smegma can sometimes collect under the foreskin. Smegma is a natural, thick substance made up of dead skin cells, bacteria and oil. This buildup of smegma can become worse if the penis isn't cleaned properly.
Having a buildup of smegma can cause chronic irritation and inflammation of the penis, which increases your risk for penile cancer.
Weak immune system @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Having a weak immune system (immunosuppression) increases your risk for penile cancer. This includes people with HIV or AIDS and people who have had an organ transplant and must take medicines to suppress their immune system.
Possible risks @(Model.HeadingTag)>
The following have been linked with penile cancer, but there is not enough evidence to know for sure that they are risks. More research is needed.
- smoking tobacco
- adult-acquired buried penis (excess fat or skin from the stomach or thighs covers the penis)
Afonso LA, Cordeiro TI, Carestiato FN, Ornellas AA, Alves G, Cavalcanti SM . High risk human papillomavirus infection of the foreskin in symptomatic men and patients with phimosis. Journal of Urology. 2016.
Archier E, Devaux S, Castela E, et al . Carcinogenic risks of psoralen UV-A therapy and narrowband UV-B therapy in chronic plaque psoriasis: a systematic literature review. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2012.
Barnes KT, McDowell BD, Button A, Smith BJ, Lynch CF, Gupta A . Obesity is associated with increased risk of invasive penile cancer. BMC Urology. 2016: https://bmcurol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12894-016-0161-7.
Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2016: http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/cancer%20information/cancer%20101/Canadian%20cancer%20statistics/Canadian-Cancer-Statistics-2016-EN.pdf?la=en.
Daling JR, Madeleine MM, Johnson LG, et al . Penile cancer: importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease. International Journal of Cancer. 2005: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.21009/full.
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Volume 100E: Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions. 2012: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100E/mono100E.pdf.
Larke NL, Thomas SL, dos Santos Silva I, Weiss HA . Male circumcision and penile cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Causes and Control. 2011: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10552-011-9785-9.
Madsen BS, van den Brule AJ, Jensen HL, Wohlfahrt J, Frisch M . Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of the penis - population-based case-control study in Denmark. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. American Association for Cancer Research; 2008.
National Toxicology Program . 14th Report on Carcinogens . Department of Health and Human Services ; 2016 .
Pow-Sang MR, Ferreira U, Pow-Sang JM, Nardi AC, Destefano V . Epidemiology and natural history of penile cancer. Urology. Elsevier; 2010.
Sorokan ST, Finlay JC, Jefferies AL, Canadian Paediatric Society . Position statement: newborn male circumcision. Paediatrics & Child Health. 2015: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/circumcision.
Spiess PE, Dhillon J, Baumgarten AS, Johnstone PA, Giuliano AR . Pathophysiological basis of human papillomavirus in penile cancer: key to prevention and delivery of more effective therapies. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2016: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21354/full.
Taylor S, Bunge E, Bakker M, Castellsague X . The incidence, clearance and persistence of non-cervical human papillomavirus infections: a systematic review of the literature. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2016: https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-016-1633-9.
Trabulsi EJ, Gomell LG . Cancer of the urethra and penis. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 69:981-987.
Wideroff L, Schottenfeld D . Penile cancer. Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni JF Jr (eds.). Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006: 61:1166-1172.