Men with penile cancer may have questions about their prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a man’s medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a person, and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic and predictive factors for penile cancer.
The most reliable prognostic factor for penile cancer is the stage of the tumour at the time of diagnosis. As with most cancers, the lower the stage of penile cancer, the better the outcome. Tumours that are on the surface of the skin of the penis have a more favourable prognosis than those that have grown through the skin to underlying tissues or those that have spread to lymph nodes and other organs. When diagnosed at an early stage, penile cancer is usually curable.
Lymph node involvement is related to the stage of the tumour and is an important prognostic factor. Penile cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes has a better prognosis than penile cancer that has spread to lymph nodes.
Cancer that has not spread into the blood or lymph vessels (lymphovascular invasion) tends to have a better prognosis than cancer that has spread to the blood vessels.
Penile cancers that have a lower grade have a better prognosis than those with a higher grade.
Some types of penile cancer have a better prognosis.