About advanced cancer

Find out about advanced penile cancer and how it might affect you.

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. But treatment might control it, help symptoms, and improve your quality of life for a while.

Sometimes cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or the cancer has come back and spread after treatment for the original cancer.

Cancers that have spread to another part of the body are called:

  • secondary cancer
  • metastases
  • metastatic cancer

How you might feel

Finding out that you can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means
    • what is likely to happen
    • what treatment is available
    • how treatment can help you


    Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

    You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

    For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.


    The most common symptoms are:

    • feeling very tired
    • feeling generally unwell
    • problems swallowing
    • weight loss

    Some people have pain but painkillers can usually control this well.


    You might have tests to find out exactly where the cancer has spread to.


    Treatment aims to control the cancer for a time and reduce symptoms. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy may shrink the cancer or stop it growing.

    Some treatments can help you to swallow more easily if the cancer is partly blocking your food pipe.  

    Related links