Staging Penile Cancer

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After penile cancer is diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started.

Staging is a way of recording the size, aggressiveness and growth of a cancer, and determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of your cancer, you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Staging penile cancer attempts to discover the following:

  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Stages of Penile Cancer

Staging penile cancer helps urologic oncologists compare an individual situation to other patients with penile cancer. They can also review clinical studies on groups of patients in similar cancer stages to determine how the cancer may behave and how different treatments may work.

The stages of penile cancer are:

  • Stage 0: Abnormal cells or growths that look like warts may be found on the surface of the penis.
  • Stage I: Cancerous cells have formed and spread only to connective tissues under the skin of the penis.
  • Stage II: Cancer has spread to the connective tissues under the surface of the penis, and may have spread to lymph nodes, erectile tissue or urethra.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread outside the penis to lymph nodes in the groin as well as connective tissue, erectile tissue, the urethra or more lymph nodes outside of the groin.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread beyond the penis to tissues near the penis such as the prostate as well as one ore more lymph nodes in the pelvis, or other areas of the body.