Lack of hygiene, human papillomavirus (HPV) and exposure to tobacco are the main risk factors for penile cancer, a disease that can have serious consequences if not detected and treated on time. Joaquín Cruz, 55, says that when he was diagnosed with this malignant tumor several years ago, his life took a 180-degree turn.
He narrates that it all started with an apparently harmless injury to his virile member. However, the shame of going to see a urologist made her condition worsen until she found herself in need of having her glans and two centimeters of her penis cut off.
What Cruz suffered is rare, but it can happen to one in 100,000 men at any age and have a significant impact on the patient’s life. According to the Cancer Observatory of the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2020, 19,816 cases of different types of cancer were registered in the Dominican Republic, penile cancer being only 1% of the total, affecting some 198 men per year. in the country. The incidence varies by geographic region, being more common in low- and middle-income countries.
The president of the Dominican Society of Urology (SDU), urologist surgeon Miguel Sánchez Caba, told the money that it is important to seek immediate medical attention if there are warning signs such as lesions or ulcers that do not heal, lumps or masses on the penis, skin changes such as redness or peeling, abnormal bleeding, and pain or discomfort in the affected area.
He indicated that there are various treatments available that can be effective in the management and remission of this disease, depending on the stage of the disease, the location and size of the tumor, as well as the general health of the patient.
Among them, he cites surgery (the tumor is removed, the amount of tissue depends on the extent of the cancer), radiotherapy (high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, before or after surgery), chemotherapy (drugs to destroy cancer cells , oral, or intravenous) and targeted therapy (a new approach that targets specific changes in cancer cells). For his counterpart Pablo Mateo, the treatment will always depend on the degree to which penile cancer is diagnosed.
“There are cases in which penile cancer in its initial stage could probably be cured with a circumcision. In others, you have to perform a partial penectomy (remove part of the penis), and in much more advanced conditions, a total or radical penectomy (remove the entire member) is performed, and sometimes patients require other treatments,” said Mateo, also a specialist. in robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery.
The urological surgeon stressed that if the patient reaches a stage where he barely has an ulcer or a small lesion of less than one centimeter, it is likely that he will be cured with a simple process.
According to the doctors consulted by the moneythe cost of penile cancer treatment may vary according to the medical situation of each patient, but these are covered by the health risk administrators (ARS), from 80% to 100%, according to the insurance plan that the person has
According to the report “Statistical and epidemiological indicators” from the Rosa Emilia Sánchez Pérez de Tavárez National Cancer Institute (Incart), of the 21 diagnoses of penile cancer between 2018 and 2019 in the country, some 18 cases had surgery coverage.
Specialists recommend proper hygiene for men, such as washing the penile area with warm soapy water, using a condom, getting vaccinated against HPV, and visiting the urologist.
Be sure to clean under the foreskin if he hasn’t been circumcised; practice safe sex using a condom to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs); HPV vaccination; avoid tobacco; apply regular self-examination of the penis to detect any changes or abnormalities; maintain good general health and see a urologist about your genital health.
Can a man live without a penis?
The urologist surgeon Pablo Mateo explains that “my experience in relation to a total radical penectomy I have performed an average of two cases out of approximately 18 or 20, that is, that 1% of these patients arrive at an advanced stage where a radical penectomy (removal of the entire penis)”, he maintains.
In this sense, his counterpart Sánchez Caba argues that “a man can live without a penis, since its main function is reproduction and urination, but it is not essential for survival.” But he explains that there are different options for those who have lost their penis, such as surgical reconstruction using tissue from other parts of the body or prosthetic implants.
However, both specialists affirm that for a man living without his penis can have a significant psychological and emotional impact.