Types of Treatment for Penile Cancer
Treatment for penile cancer is either local or systemic. Local treatments remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in one area. Surgery, radiation therapy, and topical chemotherapy are local treatments. The type(s) of treatment chosen depends on many factors, including how far the cancer has spread. Spread of cancer is measured by stage. Treatments depend mostly on the stage. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells throughout the entire body. Chemotherapy is used when cancer has spread.
You may have just one of these treatments, or you may have a combination.
Surgery. The goal of this treatment is to remove the tumor and leave as much of the penis as possible. New advances in treatment have increased the kinds of surgery used to treat penile cancer and have made the removal of the penis less common. Doctors may also use surgery to remove regional lymph nodes.
Radiation therapy. The goal of this treatment is to kill cancer cells by using X-rays. Your doctor may use it as the main treatment for penile cancer instead of surgery, or it may be used along with surgery in some cases. You may receive radiation externally, called external beam radiation therapy, or internally, called brachytherapy.
Chemotherapy. Depending on the type of tumor, doctors may use different chemotherapy drugs to treat penile cancer. For very early stage cancers, chemotherapy may be applied directly to the skin as a cream (topical chemotherapy). For advanced cancers, systemic chemotherapy (given into a vein) may help shrink tumors.
Doctors are always finding new ways to treat penile cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should consider.