Follow-up after treatment for penile cancer

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for penile cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists), the surgeon, the urologist and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.

Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:

  • any new growth on the penis
  • any new swelling of the penis
  • any new swelling in the groin

The chance that penile cancer will come back (recur) is greatest within the first year, so you will need close follow-up during this time.

Schedule for follow-up visits

Follow-up visits for penile cancer are usually scheduled:

  • every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 years
  • every 6 to 12 months for the next 3 years

Men who have had treatments that didn’t involve removing the penis should be followed for longer than 5 years.

During follow-up visits

During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping.

Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:

  • checking the penis, groin and pelvic area
  • feeling the lymph nodes in the groin

Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:

  • blood tests
  • a chest x-ray to check for cancer that may have spread to the lungs
  • a CT scan to check for cancer that may have spread to distant areas in the body
  • an ultrasound to check for cancer that may have spread to lymph nodes in the groin
  • a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy to look for changes in the lymph node cells
  • a PET scan to check for cancer that has spread to distant areas in the body

If the cancer has come back, you and your healthcare team will discuss a plan for your treatment and care.

Questions to ask about follow-up

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.

Expert review and references

  • Alberta Health Services. Penile Cancer Clinical Practice Guideline GU-006. Alberta Health Services; 2012:
  • American Cancer Society. Penile Cancer. 2015:
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Penile Cancer. 2014:
  • Penis. BC Cancer Agency. BC Cancer Agency. Revised ed. Vancouver, BC: BC Cancer Agency; 2011.
  • BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). Cancer Management Guidelines:Penis. 2010:
  • Richter S, Ruether JD, Wood L, Canil C, Moretto P, et al . Management of carcinoma of the penis: consensus statement from the Canadian Association of Genitourinary Medical Oncologists (CAGMO). Canadian Urological Association Journal. 2013.