Our bodies are composed of many types of cells. Normal, healthy cells carry out their specific tasks in an orderly fashion. They respond to signals from other cells and do not grow beyond what the body needs for healthy function. When they become old or damaged, they die and new cells are formed. Cancer cells are cells that have gone haywire. They continue to grow and divide and can result in clusters of cells called tumors. While cancer of the penis is not as common as bladder or breast cancer, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,320 new cases of penile cancer are diagnosed each year. Read on for 12 facts you may not know about penile cancer.
12. Benign Conditions Affecting the Penis
Not all growths on the penis are cancerous. Genital warts (condylomas) are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and look like tiny cauliflowers on the skin. Another condition caused by HPV is called Bowenoid papulosis, which appears as many small, raised, brown, red, or skin-colored growths on the shaft of the penis. While Bowenoid papulosis is not cancer, if left untreated it can progress to form cancer. The HPV vaccine protects against genital warts and cancers caused by HPV. The use of condoms during sex also prevents transmission of this virus.
11. Penile Cancer Prevalence and Risk Factors
Penile cancer is rare in North America and Europe. It accounts for less than 1% of cancers in men in the United States. Higher rates of penile cancer are seen in some parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. Some risk factors for contracting penile cancer are non-circumcision, becoming infected with HPV, smoking, and age greater than 55 years. Uncircumcised men with a buildup of secretions under the foreskin, called smegma, may be prone to cancer from irritation and inflammation of the penis. Men with weakened immune systems caused by HIV infection may also be more likely to develop penile cancer.