Treating penile cancer depends on the stage of disease. Surgery is the most common form of therapy, but laser therapy and radiation can be used for smaller tumors.
Surgery to remove all or part of the penis is called penectomy:
Partial penectomy is a frequently used form of therapy. The tumor is removed along with a margin of normal tissue. Historically, a two-centimeter margin was obtained in all cases, but more recent data suggest that such wide margins may not be necessary. Surgeons are currently attempting to spare as much of the glans (head) and shaft as possible to retain urinary and sexual function.
Total penectomy involves removal of the entire penis for large tumors. The surgeon reroutes the urethra behind the testicles and a urethrostomy (hole) is created so the patient can urinate. Penile reconstruction surgery using a flap of skin from the forearm to create a new penis has been done, but the procedure is still extremely rare.
For very small superficial tumors, penile cancer may be treated with a laser beam that destroys the tumor, radiation therapy and, in some cases, a cream containing the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil applied to the skin. These treatments offer the best opportunity to spare the glans, penis and sexual function. That is why it is important to find penile tumors early by seeking immediate medical attention for any abnormalities on the penis.