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If a tumour has grown into surrounding tissue, removing it surgically is the best chance of cure. If the tumour is in your penis tissue, some or all of your penis might need to be removed to get rid of the cancer.

A recommendation of penectomy raises many questions. Talk with your doctor about your concerns, for example:

  • Are there other treatment options?
  • Will this cure my cancer?
  • What will my penis look like?
  • How long will it take to heal?
  • How will I urinate?
  • Will I be able to have sex?
  • Is reconstructive surgery an option?

The procedure

If only the end of the penis will be removed, the surgery is called a partial penectomy (Figure 1). Removal of just the head of the penis is called a glansectomy (Figure 2) The surgeon will remove the end but leave as much of your penis as possible. A new end may be built using a skin graft from your thigh. If possible, your penis will be long enough for you to urinate standing up.

Total penectomy is removal of the whole penis. This includes the shaft and the root, which is inside your body. Also, a new opening must be created surgically to carry urine out of the body. This opening is usually placed on the perineum—the space between your scrotum and anus—between your legs.

Fig. 1: Partial penectomy.
Fig. 1: Partial penectomy.
Fig. 2: Glansectomy.
Fig. 2: Glansectomy.