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Referral to a specialist

Find out when GPs refer people to see a penile cancer specialist. This is usually a urologist. 

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist within 2 weeks if you have symptoms that could be due to penile cancer. This is called an urgent referral.

Seeing your GP

Most patients who see a GP do not have cancer and have symptoms due to a more minor condition. For some symptoms, your doctor may ask you to wait to see if the symptoms get better or respond to treatment, such as antibiotics.

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

Urgent referral

Your GP should make an urgent referral if you have:

  • a lump or ulcerated area on the penis that is not caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • a sore area that hasn't gone away after you have had treatment for an STI
  • unexplained or continuing symptoms that affect the foreskin or the head of the penis (glans)

It is important to remember that:

  • penile cancer is rare (around 600 cases a year in the UK)
  • most cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 50

Who you will see

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that men with penile cancer are treated by specialised multidisciplinary teams (MDTs). The MDT is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best way to manage your care. The MDT can include:

  • specialist urology doctors (urologists)
  • plastic surgeons
  • doctors who specialise in chemotherapy (medical oncologists)
  • doctors who specialise in radiotherapy (clinical oncologists)
  • doctors who specialise in reading x-rays and scans (radiologists)
  • specialist nurses
  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • doctors who make a diagnosis from tissue specimens (histopathologists)

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) produce guidelines for GPs in the UK. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.

Information and help