Penile Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of penile cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the symptoms and signs of penile cancer?

People with penile cancer may experience one or more of the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with penile cancer do not have any of the symptoms and signs 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 try to understand what is causing your symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative and supportive care," which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as cancer. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during cancer treatment. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping With 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.