Causes and risk factors of penile cancer
HPV is a common virus that most sexually active people have been exposed to. Some types of HPV increase the risk of certain cancers. But most people with HPV never develop cancer.
HPV infection is often found in penile cancer. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, which increase the risk of penile cancer.
Penile cancer is more common in men who have a tight foreskin that does not pull back easily (phimosis). The reason for this is not known. It may be because having a tight foreskin can make it difficult to pull back the skin to clean the penis.
Penile cancer is less common in men who are circumcised (have all or part of their foreskin removed).
Some skin conditions that affect the penis, such as lichen sclerosus, may develop into cancer if they are not treated.
Always see your GP if you have:
- white or red scaly patches on the head of the penis
- moist red patches of skin on the penis.