The Emasculating Cancer

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The Emasculating Cancer

September 12
16:43 2017

Whether we like to admit or talk about it, each sex has their own key identifying physical attributes. For many women, it’s their breasts and the thought or realization of losing one or both breasts is like asking many of them to give up their femininity or womanhood. To many women, losing their breasts is worse than having to undergo a hysterectomy.

With men, many believe that their penis is the symbol of their manhood and the thought or realization of losing one’s penis is considered by many to be the ultimate form of emasculation. However, just like telling a woman she has to lose her breasts to save her life, sometimes it’s necessary to tell a man that he needs to lose his penis in order to save his life.

With women, it’s breast cancer. With men, it’s penile cancer.

Fortunately, for men, penile caner is far less common than breast cancer, but about 17% of men diagnosed with penile cancer will die as a result of it. Every year, there are about 2.120 new cases of penile cancer diagnosed in the United States, and every year, there are about 360 deaths due to penile cancer.

The average age of men first diagnosed with penile cancer is 68-years of age. Around 80% of cases of penile cancer are diagnosed in men over the age or 55.

In addition to age, other risk factors of developing penile cancer include:

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) – encompasses a group of over 150 related viruses, referred to collectively as papillomas.
  • Uncircumcised – doctors are not sure why circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer, but in areas like the United States where circumcision is more common, penile cancer is less common.
  • Phimosis – a condition where the foreskin, when not circumcised, becomes tight and difficult to retract. For reasons not fully understood, this seems to increase the risk of developing penile cancer.
  • Smegma – this is a smelly thick substance that collects underneath an uncircumcised foreskin, especially those with phimosis. If not cleaned out regularly, this increases the risk of developing penile cancer.
  • Smoking – smoking increases the chances of developing penile cancer, especially in men with an HPV infection.
  • PUVA therapy – some men with psoriasis are treated with certain drugs and then exposed to UV light waves to help treat the effected skin areas. The exposure to the UV light appears to increase the risk of developing penile cancer.
  • AIDS – men with AIDS have weakened immune systems which increases their risk of developing many types of cancer, including penile cancer.

Symptoms of penile cancer include sores, bleeding, discharge, redness, irritation, and sometimes a lump on the penis.

If a man suspects he may have penile cancer, he needs to see his doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will most likely get a medical history and conduct a physical exam. If necessary, a biopsy may be performed to remove some of the cells so they can be further examined. There are three basic types of biopsy that can be conducted:

  • Needle biopsy – a needle is used to withdraw fluid from the lump or suspected tumor.
  • Incisional biopsy – this entails surgically removing a sample of the tissue.
  • Excisional biopsy – This entails surgically removing the entire lump or affected tissue.

Depending on the stage of penile cancer or the severity of cancer, there are 6 standard methods of treatment:

  • Mohs microsurgery – this entails surgically removing the tumor in thin layers at a time. Each layer removed is examined under a microscope to determine the cancerous and healthy cells. When the last layer removed shows no more signs of cancerous cells, the incision is closed up.
  • Laser surgery – using a fine laser beam to remove a skin lesion type cancer. The laser beam acts as a knife and cauterizes the wound to prevent bleeding.
  • Cryosurgery – Also known as cryotherapy, this process freezes the effected tissue in hopes of destroying the cancer.
  • Circumcision – Surgically removing all or part of the foreskin if this is where the cancer is located.
  • Wide local excision – using normal surgical procedure to remove the infected tissue which generally also includes cutting away some normal healthy tissue as well.
  • Amputation – surgically removing part of the penis (partial penectomy) or all of the penis (total penectomy).

Many of these procedures may be followed with radiation and or chemotherapy.

Additional new types of treatment and therapy are being explored all the time in hopes of finding ways to treat and eradicate penile cancer without the need to emasculate the patient.

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