What is penile cancer?

Penile cancer is a rare type of cancer in men that usually forms lesions on the skin of the penis.

More information about penile cancer (American Cancer Society)

What penile cancer is not

Penile cancer is not testicular cancer and should not be confused with other genitourinary cancers such as bladder, prostate, kidney, adrenal, or urethral because these cancers can have different symptoms, outlooks, and treatments.

Common types of penile cancer

  • Squamous cell carcinoma - the most common type of penile cancer that starts in flat skin cells called squamous cells. 
  • Melanoma - begins in melanocytes that make up skin pigment.
  • Basal cell carcinoma - another form of skin cancer that can develop on the penis, but more rarely than squamous cell carcinoma.


It’s possible that you could have one or more of the following tests (but not all of these may apply to your condition):

  • Surgical Biopsy - A surgical biopsy requires a small incision to remove a small sample of tissue or a tumor lump. You are given some form of anesthesia to prevent discomfort and will have a surgical scar.
  • Physical exam
  • CT scan (computed tomography scan) - A CT scan is a series of X-ray pictures of the penis put together by a computer to give doctors a detailed picture.
  • MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) - An MRI test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to capture detailed images of the penis. During the procedure you will lie flat on a padded platform, which then slides into the center of a tube shaped MRI machine. You will not feel the magnetic fields or radio waves around you, but you will hear a loud thumping sound. You will be asked to lie very still during the procedure, The MRI technicians will work with you to help this procedure be as comfortable as possible.


Depending on your unique set of conditions, your treatment could include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation or a combination of these. Your full team of care providers will work closely together to review your diagnostic tests, identify the best course of treatment particular to you, and help you understand your diagnosis and what to expect with any treatment you have.