Penile cancer


Penile cancer

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Surgery involves removing tissues or organs from the body. The type of surgery you have depends on your cancer. You may also hear surgery called an operation or a procedure.

Every operation is different. Ask your surgeon about what to expect.

What you need to know

Penile cancer surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for penile cancer. The type of surgery needed depends on the size of the cancer and where it is located on the penis.

There are different types of surgery. Some may cause changes to the way your penis looks and affect your sex life. Your urologist will explain what type of surgery you need and what the effects will be.

It is important to understand what surgery is planned and how this will affect you.

Types of surgery for penile cancer include:

Surgery on the Penis

  • circumcision
  • laser surgery
  • cryosurgery or photodynamic therapy
  • wide local excision
  • Glans resurfacing
  • glansectomy
  • partial penectomy
  • total penectomy.

Surgery on the Lymph nodes

Some men may have surgery to remove lymph nodes in the area during the staging or treatment of their cancer, including:

  • sentinel node biopsy
  • inguinal lymph node dissection.
  • pelvic lymph node dissection.

The surgical team

Health professionals who work as part of the surgical team include:

  • surgeon
  • anaesthetist
  • nurse
  • allied health professional.

What to ask or talk about

Side effects of penile cancer surgery

Your surgeon will discuss any risks of the surgery with you before your operation. Most hospitals will also give you written information about the surgery and who to contact if you have any concerns.

The surgical team looking after you during and after your operation will take care to reduce your risk of side effects and treat any that you get.

Possible surgical side effects and complications include:

  • pain
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • lymphoedema 
  • tiredness 
  • blood clots
  • problems passing urine
  • erection problems and changes to sexual functioning.
Every operation is different. Ask your surgeon about what to expect and see our checklist of questions to ask.

checklist Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Next steps

Preparing for surgery

Before surgery, you will need to sign a consent form. It is important you understand what you are consenting to and the possible risks of the surgery.

Some things you should know are:

  • whether you need to have tests and a preoperative assessment
  • whether you need to change or stop any medications, e.g. blood thinners like aspirin
  • when you have to stop eating and drinking
  • when you have to be there
  • whether you need time off work
  • whether you need someone to care for you at home after surgery (if you are having day surgery you will need someone to drive you home).
If you smoke, you should stop before any operation as your risk of complications from surgery is higher.

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