HPV and Penile Cancer in Men
HPV in the USA
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, will be contracted by up to 90% of people in the United States at some point in their life. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease, so odds are if you are or ever have been sexually active, you have been exposed. Usually HPV is not permanent. Most of the time the body's immune system will overcome the virus and infection will disappear. Sometimes this is not the case, and treatment is required.
Dangers of HPV
- The most common problem people with HPV encounter is genital warts. 1-2% of the population suffers from genital warts. These are troublesome and embarrassing, but are not life-threatening, and in most cases can be cured.
- Another, more insidious effect of HPV is that some strains have been known to cause cancer. In women, cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and in men anal cancer and penile cancer have been shown to be the result of HPV infections.
What is penile cancer?
Penile cancer is cancer of the penis. Penile cancer is fairly rare. There are about 1200 new cases reported each year, and less than 300 deaths. There are many different types of penile cancer, and HPV may cause up to 60% of penile cancers.
What are the symptoms of penile cancer?
Penile cancer has some telltale symptoms of which you should be wary:
- Growths, ulcers, or sores. These may be painful or they might not hurt at all.
- If you have a foreskin, a persistent smelly discharge coming from underneath it may indicate cancer
- Any change in color of the penis
- Wart-like growths
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
Since some of these symptoms could be caused by other diseases like syphilis or herpes, you should consult your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
What are the risk factors for penile cancer?
In addition to having HPV, there are other factors that may put you at increased risk for developing penile cancer.
- Lack of proper hygiene causes increased risk for disease
- Always be sure to wash under your foreskin.
- Men over 40 are more likely to develop penile cancer
- Men who smoke are more likely to develop penile cancer
- To lessen your risk for penile cancer, you should be sure to practice safe sex and proper hygiene, and if you smoke you should quit.
How is penile cancer diagnosed and treated?
- Your doctor will first visually examine your penis
- A biopsy may be ordered to determine if a suspicious area is cancerous
- A CT scan or an ultrasound may be required to check if the cancer has spread.
Treatment options include:
- Circumcision and/or removal of parts of the penis
- A combination of treatments
Prevention is the best medicine
If you have stubborn genital warts that will not go away, you might want to seek treatment. There are many treatment options available for genital warts, ranging from freezing, cauterization, and surgery, to other, more natural treatments.