Diagnosis & staging
These are tests that may be used to diagnose this type of cancer.
- Physical examination
- Biopsy (usually done under local anaesthetic)
- Circumcision (removal of foreskin) may be necessary to remove the tumour or to expose the lesion for biopsy
- CT scan of pelvis
- Chest X-ray
For more information on tests used to diagnose cancer, see our Recommended Websites, Diagnostic Tests section.
Types and Stages
- 95% of penis cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
- Other types of penile cancer include melanomas and sarcomas.
Staging describes the extent of a cancer. The TNM classification system is used as the standard around the world. In general, a lower number in each category means a better prognosis. The stage of the cancer is used to plan the treatment.
T describes the site and size of the main tumour (primary)
N describes involvement of lymph nodes
M relates to whether the cancer has spread (presence or absence of distant metastases
Carcinoma in-situ. The cancer has not spread below the surface layer of skin, and has not spread to any lymph nodes or distant sites.
The cancer has spread to the connective tissue just under the surface layer of skin. It has not spread to any lymph nodes or distant sites.
The cancer has spread to blood or lymph vessels and/or into the internal chambers of the penis and/or the urethra. It has not spread to any lymph nodes or distant sites.
The cancer has spread to the urethra or prostate.
The cancer has spread to adjacent structures and may have spread to lymph nodes in the groin; the cancer has spread beyond lymph nodes in the groin or to pelvic lymph nodes; or the cancer has spread to distant organs.