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Symptoms of penile cancer

Find out about possible symptoms of penile cancer and when to see your doctor.

Cancer of the penis can cause the following symptoms but they can also be due to other medical conditions. 

If you have any of these symptoms it is important to see your GP. 

A growth or sore on your penis

A growth or sore on your penis that doesn't heal within 4 weeks. It can look like a wart, ulcer or blister and might not be painful. It is important to know what is normal for you.

Tell you doctor about any changes.

Bleeding from your penis

Bleeding can be a sign of cancer, including from under your foreskin.

A foul smelling discharge

A foul smelling discharge can occur due to an infection or something irritating the skin of the penis. It can also be due to not washing often or thoroughly enough. Cancer of the penis is a less common cause but it is very important to see your doctor if you have a discharge.

A rash on your penis

You may notice that a rash develops on your penis. It is important to be aware of what is normal for you and report any changes to your doctor.

Difficulty in drawing back your foreskin (phimosis)

You may notice it becomes more difficult to draw back your foreskin.

A change in the colour of your penis or foreskin

You may see changes to the colour of your penis or foreskin. It is important to be aware of what is normal for you and report any changes to your doctor.

Other rarer symptoms

These symptoms can be a sign of a more advanced cancer:
  • a lump (swollen lymph node) in the groin
  • feeling tired
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • pain in the bones
  • loss of weight
When to see your doctor

You should see your doctor if you have:

  • a growth or sore on the penis that doesn’t heal within four weeks
  • symptoms that are unusual for you
  • symptoms that don’t go away

These symptoms don't always mean you have penile cancer. They may be symptoms of other medical conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases.

It is not unusal to feel embarrassed or frightened by such symptoms. It is easy to put off going to your doctor. But it is important to get any symptoms checked by a doctor straight away. This means that if you have cancer, you can get it diagnosed and treated early.

Last reviewed: 
01 Apr 2016
  • Epidemiology and natural history of penile cancer
    MR​ Pow-Sang and others
    Urology. 2010 Aug;76(2 Suppl 1):S2-6

  • Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology 10th edition 
    Vincent T. DeVita (Editor), Theodore S. Lawrence (Editor), Steven A. Rosenberg (Editor)
    Wolters Kluwer (2015)

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