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Treatments for penis cancer

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Updated July 14, 2014

Treatments for penis cancer
Treatments offered for penis cancer will depend on the stage the cancer has reached. Doctors specializing in cancer (oncologists) or the genital and urinary system, known as urologists are the best and most informed doctors to consult. They will then be able to advise how to proceed with treatment and who are the best doctors in this field of medicine.

Seeking early treatment for penis cancer is extremely important, putting off going to the doctor can cost your life.

Treatments for penile cancer include:
Surgery for penis cancer
Removal of the cancer is the most common treatment. If the cancer is small and localized to the tip, then a partial penectomy can be performed under a general anesthetic. This operation will allow you to maintain the ability to urinate normally and function sexually.

Microsurgery may be possible and this helps to remove the smallest amount of cancerous and minimal amounts of normal tissue to preserve as much of the organ as possible. In some cases the penis that remains can be enlarged surgically.If the cancer is more advanced then a total penectomy is the option. A new urethral opening is created in the groin to allow for urination. Urination is controlled via a 2on-off valve.

Radiotherapy for penis cancer
A course of radiotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgical removal of the cancer. This treatment can be done on an outpatient basis and is usually painless. It can cause some side effects such as sensitivity and irritation of the skin, loss of appetite, fatigue, rectal bleeding or injury, inflammation of the bladder, blood in the urine. The course of treatment using an external beam (rather like an X-ray machine) usually lasts 5 days a week for 6 to 8 weeks.

Medications for penis cancer
Chemotherapy may be used in conjuncture with surgery either intravenously, orally or in the form of a cream. The first course of the 'chemo' is usually started in hospital to monitor any side effects, it can then be given on an out-patient basis. There are a number of unpleasant side effects, for example, nausea and vomiting, hair loss and infertility (this can be temporary).

Councelling and Support for penis cancer
Sex lives will be changed. It is important to remind yourself that a successful sex life need not depend on solely on penile stimulation and that even if adapting to it is very difficult, the alternative is less attractive. Support groups are available and sometimes it can be very helpful after the initial shock. Seeking the advice of those who have experience makes you feel less isolated. The medical team responsible for your treatment will be able to answer your queries and that can put your mind at rest to a degree.

The American Cancer Society has an excellent website on sexuality and cancer that can give you an informed insight into common difficulties. If you and your partner can work through the issues together it will help.

Article updated 02/15/2006

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