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Stage 0

Find out what stage 0 penile cancer means and about treatment options.

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and how far it’s spread. It helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ (CIS) is the earliest stage of penile cancer and cancer cells are only in the top layers of the skin of the penis. They haven’t spread anywhere else. These are really pre-cancerous cell changes. Doctors might also call it penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). 

The areas look like small lumps (nodules) or sores (ulcers) and can vary in size. The condition can stay at this stage for several years. 

Stage 0 is the same as Tis, Ta, N0, M0 in the TNM staging system.

Treatment

The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is 
  • other health conditions that you have

There are various treatments to treat penile CIS. These aim to keep the penis looking and working normally. 

Treatments you may have include:

  • chemotherapy creams such as fluorouracil (5FU), or a cream called imiquimod that uses the immune system to fight cancer
  • laser therapy
  • cryotherapy
  • glans resurfacing surgery where the top layers of tissue from the glans or tip of the penis are removed and then covered with a skin graft

The treatment you have will depend on: 

  • what you prefer
  • what your doctor thinks is best for your type of cancer
  • which treatments are available at your hospital

Other stages

Last reviewed: 
04 Apr 2016
  • American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) manual (7th edition)
    S Edge and others
    Springer, 2010

  • Guidelines on Penile Cancer
    O.W. Hakenberg and others
    European Association of Urology (EAU) 2014

Information and help

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