Words like "broken penis" or "impotence" may strike fear into the heart of every man, but the words "penile cancer" can be even more frightening. Cancer of the penis is rare, but it can be deadly, so understanding the risk factors and knowing the signs to watch for can be an important aspect of penis care.

Understanding Cancer

Cancer is a term that refers to abnormal cell growth in the body. Cancerous cells, or tumors, tend to grow much faster than the surrounding healthy tissue, and they generally grow in a disorganized manner. Over time, cancerous tumors can impede normal function of the affected organs, and if the growth is not checked, the cancer cells can metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. The key to treating cancer successfully is to catch it as early as possible, so knowing what to look for and making self-exams a part of the personal care regimen is a must, especially for men who are known to be at a higher risk for cancer.

In the case of penile cancer, tumors are often found on the very tip of the penis, although they can also occur elsewhere. Men who are circumcised might be able to see changes in the skin without much effort, but those who haven't been cut might need to retract the foreskin and inspect the underlying tissue carefully for any of the following warning signs. Tumors on the penis are often described as:

  • Thickened patches of skin
  • Flat, blue-brown spots
  • Bleeding sores
  • Painless bumps
  • These descriptions could match a number of other health conditions that could impact the penis, and it's important to note that many people who develop these changes don’t always have cancer. In fact, penile cancer is remarkably rare, but any abnormalities like this should prompt a visit to the doctor.

    Common Risk Factors

    While penile cancer is rare, it does happen, especially to men who have a number of risk factors. Cleanliness is one such risk factor that seems to have a deep impact on a man's chances of getting cancer. Men who don't clean regularly, including men who can't retract the foreskin and don't clean underneath it, are at a higher risk of developing cancer when compared to men who keep things tidy.

    Similarly, some types of penile cancer are associated with the human papilloma virus, or HPV. This sexually transmitted disease causes warts to spring up on the penis, and men who contract HPV have a higher likelihood of developing cancer. Not everyone who gets HPV will get cancer, and not everyone who has cancer has HPV, but it is worth being aware of the fact. As with women, men can now receive a vaccine for HPV - in order to be effective, they should be vaccinated during the early teen years, before they become sexually active.

    Keeping Cancer at Bay

    Understanding that penile cancer is rare may help to ease the minds of many men. But it's reasonable for all men to use common sense and reduce their risk of developing this disease. Using protection during sexual encounters, for example, may help to lower a man's risk of developing HPV infection, and that might help some men to avoid cancerous changes.

    Keeping clean is another important issue; and washing and grooming the penis offers a man the opportunity to really look over every inch of his tool and ensure that he doesn't find anything that deserves a doctor's attention.

    After that thorough cleaning and inspection, a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) can help to seal in vital moisture and ensure that sensitive tissues have the nourishment they need to function at an optimum level. A quality product also contains emollients that can keep skin soft, healthy, sensitive and supple.