The most common early symptom of penile cancer is a change in the skin of the penis, especially in the head (glans) or foreskin.
Such changes can include:
- A warty growth
- A painless nodule
- White patches
- A rash
These symptoms also are common in benign conditions such as genital warts or infections, so it is important to discuss them with a physician. Penile cancer generally does not cause pain; however, as it progresses it can cause ulceration and bleeding.
Causes and Risk Factors
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been linked to penile cancer in men. The chances of HPV infection are higher in men who were not circumcised as an infant and/or have multiple sexual partners.
Other risk factors for developing penile cancer include:
- Phimosis, which is a condition in which the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the glans
- Having a weakened immune system
- Poor personal hygiene
- Men older than 60
- Undergoing UV treatment for psoriasis