Statistics and outlook for penile cancer
This page is about statistics and what they can tell us about the outlook for people with penile cancer. There is information about
Penile cancer statistics and prognosis
Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With penile cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). The grade may also be a factor.
In this page, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of penile cancer. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of CancerHelp UK. They are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.
We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wishes to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it.
How reliable are cancer statistics?
No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating penile cancer section.
This page contains quite detailed information about the survival rates of different stages of penile cancer. We have included it because many people have asked us for this. But not everyone who is diagnosed with a cancer wishes to read this type of information. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment or not, then perhaps you might like to skip this page for now. You can always come back to it.
Please note: There are no national statistics available for different stages of cancer or treatments that people have had. The statistics here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts that check each section of CancerHelp UK. We provide statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and cannot be regarded as any more than that.
There is a section explaining more about the different types of cancer statistics in the section on incidence, mortality and survival. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, it might help to read this before you read the information below.
Remember - 5 year survival is a term that doctors use. It does not mean you will only live 5 years. It relates to the number of people in research who were still alive 5 years after diagnosis. Doctors follow what happens to people for 5 years after treatment in any research study. This is because there is only a small chance that penile cancer will come back more than 5 years after treatment.
Penile cancer is a rare cancer. It is more difficult to get statistics for rare cancers because they are based on small numbers of people. Remember that most cases of penile cancer are in men aged over 60 years old. It rarely affects men under 40.
As with many types of cancer, the outcome of penile cancer depends on how advanced it is when you are diagnosed. In other words, the outcome depends on how far the cancer has grown (the stage of the cancer). The grade of the cancer may also be a factor.
For men with the very earliest stage - penile carcinoma in situ (CIS) - over 9 out of 10 (90%) will be alive at 5 years.
One of the most important factors that affects the outlook for people with penile cancer is whether nearby lymph nodes contain cancer cells. Recent studies have reported that about 9 out of 10 men (90%) who do not have cancer in the lymph nodes will live for at least 5 years. For men who have cancer in their lymph nodes, but no spread to other parts of the body, it depends on which lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes have cancer cells in them. If there are cancer cells in only one lymph node in the groin just over 8 out of 10 men (80%) will live for at least 5 years. If more than 2 lymph nodes in the groin has cancer cells in them or the lymph nodes in the abdomen have cancer cells in them around 4 out of 10 men (40%) will live for at least five years.
If the cancer has spread further than the lymph nodes in the groin, unfortunately the outlook is likely to be poorer.
No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics are not detailed enough to tell you
- About the different treatments people may have had
- How that treatment may have affected their prognosis
There are many individual factors that will help to decide your treatment and prognosis.
Research evidence shows that taking part in clinical trials may improve outlook. No one is completely sure why this is. It is probably partly to do with your doctors and nurses monitoring you more closely if you are in a trial. For example, you may have more scans and blood tests. There is more information in the trials and research section. If any penile cancer trials are currently recruiting patients, you can find details on our clinical trials database. But it is a very rare cancer, and there are fewer trials for penile cancer than for other, more common cancers.
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