Penile cancer, while relatively rare in the western world, remains a disease with severe morbidity and mortality, not to mention significant psychological ramifications. Furthermore, the disease is observed with dramatically increased incidence in other parts of the world. A review of the literature has shown that the overwhelming majority of penile cancers are in situ or invasive squamous cell carcinomas, including a well-differentiated variant, verrucous carcinoma. Important predisposing factors are lack of circumcision, human papillomavirus infections, and penile lichen sclerosus, although other factors have occasionally been reported as well. Prevention, careful monitoring of patients at risk, and early diagnosis are essential to reduce the incidence of penile carcinoma and to provide a definitive cure. Public health measures, such as prophylactic use of circumcision, have proved successful but are controversial. Also, no standard therapeutic guidelines as to the best treatment strategy according to different stages, including efficacy of conservative nonsurgical modalities and indications for lymph nodal dissection, are available so far. It is common opinion that penile cancer is an emerging problem that deserves further investigations, and physicians, especially dermatologists, should be aware of this issue. At the completion of this learning activity, participants should be familiar with penile carcinoma, its risk factors, its clinical and histologic presentation, and the treatments currently available for its management.
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