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Penile Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

In order to determine if an abnormality on the penis is cancer, a biopsy is needed in which a sample of skin tissues is removed for laboratory testing. If cancer is confirmed, tests to determine the extent of the cancer will be recommended, including:

  • Fine needle aspiration: In this type of biopsy, cells are removed through a thin needle that has been placed directly into the mass.
  • Ultrasound: This procedure uses sound waves to help determine how deeply a tumor has invaded into the penis.
  • CT Scan or MRI: A CT scan or MRI may reveal the presence of enlarged lymph nodes—an indication that the cancer has spread.
  • Lymph node dissection or sentinel lymph node biopsy: These procedures are used to surgically remove lymph nodes in the groin to determine if the cancer has spread. Sentinel lymph node biopsy uses a radioactive tracer to find the first lymph node that may be cancerous. This minimizes the number of lymph nodes that need to be removed for analysis and therefore minimizes side effects of the lymph node dissection.