Penile Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

People with penile cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can identify and describe, such as fatigue, nausea, or pain. A sign is something that other people can identify and measure, such as a fever, rash, or an elevated pulse. Together, signs and symptoms can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with penile cancer do not have any of the signs and symptoms described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not cancer.

  • A growth or sore on the penis, especially on the glans or foreskin, but cancer can also occur on the shaft

  • Changes in the color of the penis

  • Thickening of the skin on the penis

  • Persistent discharge with a foul odor beneath the foreskin

  • Blood coming from the tip of the penis or from under the foreskin

  • Unexplained pain in the shaft or tip of the penis

  • Irregular or growing bluish-brown flat lesions or marks beneath the foreskin or on the penis

  • Reddish, velvety rash beneath the foreskin

  • Small, crusty bumps beneath the foreskin

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin

  • Irregular swelling at the end of the penis

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may be called "palliative care" or "supportive care." It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.