Signs and symptoms of penile cancer
The signs and symptoms below don’t always mean a man has penile cancer. In fact, many of them are more likely to be caused by other conditions. Still, if you have any of these signs or symptoms, see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can start treatment and the more effective it is likely to be.
Most often, the first sign of penile cancer is a change in the skin of the penis. This is most likely to be on the glans (tip) of the penis or on the foreskin (in uncircumcised men), but it can also be on the shaft. Possible signs of penile cancer include:
- An area of skin becoming thicker and/or changing color
- A lump on the penis
- An ulcer (sore) that might bleed
- A reddish, velvety rash
- Small, crusty bumps
- Flat, bluish-brown growths
- Smelly discharge (fluid) under the foreskin
Sores or lumps from penile cancer are not usually painful, but they can be in some cases. You should see a doctor if you find any kind of new growth or other abnormality on your penis, even if it is not painful.
Swelling at the end of the penis, especially when the foreskin is constricted, is another possible sign of penile cancer.
Lumps under the skin in the groin area
If the cancer spreads from the penis, it most often travels first to lymph nodes in the groin. This can make those lymph nodes swell. Lymph nodes are collections of immune system cells. Normally, they are bean-sized and can barely be felt at all. If they are swollen, the lymph nodes may be felt as lumps under the skin.
But swollen lymph nodes don’t always mean that cancer has spread there. More commonly, lymph nodes swell in response to an infection. The skin in and around a penile cancer can often become infected, which might cause the nearby lymph nodes to swell, even if the cancer hasn’t reached them.
Last Medical Review: 03/30/2015
Last Revised: 02/09/2016