Penis cancer is on the rise, with a 20 per cent increase in the last three decades in the UK alone.
The Daily Mail reports the main reasons for the rise in penis cancer are:
  • Changes in sexual behaviour with both men and women having more sexual partners
  • Greater exposure to the sexually transmitted HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • Decreasing rates of childhood circumcision.

Genital Warts Increase Risk

HPV-related genital warts are associated with a six-fold risk of penile cancer and the incidence of them has rapidly increased in men between 1970 to 2009, with a 30 per cent rise during 2000–2009.

Cancer charities are now urging men to be aware of symptoms of the disease - which are often confused with signs of a sexually transmitted infection or genital warts.
Penile cancer has a high cure rate if detected early. The cancer itself can develop anywhere in the penis, but most commonly affects the foreskin and glans.

Risk Greater For Smokers

The exact cause of penis cancer is not known, but the risk of developing it is greater for smokers.
It has been suggested that smoking may act as a co-factor that modulates the risk of progression from HPV infection to premalignant lesions and invasive penile cancer.
As well, the toxic chemicals found in tobacco are excreted in the urine. A build-up of these substances under the foreskin may cause changes in the normal healthy cells of the skin, which may lead to cancerous cells developing.

Uncircumcised Men At Greater Risk

Men who are uncircumcised are also at greater risk. This is because they may find it more difficult to pull back the foreskin enough to clean thoroughly underneath, resulting in poor hygiene. 
This may lead to a build-up of chemical substances that may cause irritation of the skin and lead to cancerous changes.

Penile Cancer Symptoms

Look for these warning signs and if you see anything like it, arrange to have a medical check up immediately.


  • A painless lump or ulcer on the penis that doesn't heal
  • Bleeding
  • A red rash under the foreskin
  • Flat growths of brownish colour
  • Difficulty in drawing back the foreskin 
  • Unusual smelling discharge from under the foreskin
  • Unexplained change in colour of the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your groin area