What is penile cancer?
Penile cancer is a cancer that starts in the penis. It can develop anywhere on the penis or within the tissues of the penis. Compared to other types of cancer, it affects a very small percentage of men. Four main types of penile cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and sarcoma. Of these, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common.
Radiation therapy is one of the treatment modalities, besides surgery and chemotherapy, recommended for this cancer. At the Austin Center for Radiation Oncology, we use External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) as the treatment option.
EBRT is recommended in the following conditions:
- The cancer is in its early stages, it is localized and the tumor is small
- The cancer has spread to lymph nodes within the groin
- The cancer is diagnosed in advanced stage and radiation is used to help slow cancer growth
- Radiation therapy is used in conjunction with chemotherapy to reduce tumor size prior to surgery, or to help reduce symptoms
Prior to undergoing radiation treatment, the Radiation Oncologist will discuss the type of cancer that the patient has, how radiation therapy works, expected side effects and outcomes. EBRT treatments for penile cancer are delivered 5 days a week Monday to Friday for a prescribed number of weeks. Our radiation therapists make sure to protect the groin while radiation is being delivered.
Patients may experience side effects during and after treatment. These vary depending on the type of penile cancer, its location, whether it is localized or has metastasized. These side effects include:
- Skin irritation
- Burning with urination
- Diarrhea or loose bowels
- Localized penile necrosis
- Narrowing of the urethra
- Urinary fistula
- Erectile difficulties
- Fertility difficulties
If you have been diagnosed with penile cancer, contact the Austin Center for Radiation Oncology to schedule a consultation.