Penile cancer surgery

The most common treatment for penile cancer is surgery. Patients have several surgical options, and the type of surgery can depend on a few factors, such as:

  • Your overall health.
  • The type and stage of your cancer.
  • The size of the tumor.

The most common types of penile cancer surgery circumcision, simple excision, microscopically controlled surgery, and surgery to remove the lymph nodes. Consult with your doctor to learn more about surgery as a treatment option.


In cases where the cancer is found on the foreskin, circumcision can often cure the cancer. A circumcision operation removes the foreskin and nearby skin, in this case, to reduce the risk of cancer returning.

Circumcisions may also be done prior to radiation therapy treatment. Radiation can cause swelling and constriction to the foreskin if not removed.

Simple Excision

A simple excision removes the tumor with a surgical knife, along with surrounding skin in the area.

Microscopically Controlled Surgery

In microscopically controlled surgery, or Mohs surgery, the surgeon removes a layer of skin that the tumor may have invaded and then checks the sample under a microscope. If the layer contains cancer, another layer is removed and examined. This process continues until the skin samples are cancer-free.

This is a highly specialized technique only used by doctors who have been trained in this specific type of surgery. It can be used for carcinoma in situ (CIS), where the cancer is in only the top layers of the skin, and for some early-stage cancers that have not grown deeply into the penis

Surgery to remove lymph nodes

Men with cancer that has grown deep within the penis (stage T2 or higher) are likely to need nearby lymph nodes in the groin area removed to check for cancer spread. This is called an inguinal lymph node dissection.

Learn more

For more information on diagnosis, treatment and more of penile cancer, visit our penile cancer information pages below.

Markey Cancer Center is NCI-designated

The UK Markey Cancer Center was first designated by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 – a distinction that recognizes our extraordinary ability to provide world-class care for our patients. We are the only NCI-designated cancer center in Kentucky and one of only 71 in the nation.