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Penile cancer

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Survival statistics for penile cancer

Survival statistics for penile cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for penile cancer and what they mean to you.

Relative survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

In Canada, a 5-year relative survival statistic is reported for penile cancer. The 5-year relative survival for penile cancer is 67%. This means that, on average, men diagnosed with penile cancer are 67% as likely to live at least 5 years after their diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of penile cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for penile cancer.

  • Generally, the earlier penile cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • Early stage penile cancer tends to be very responsive to treatment.
  • There are many effective treatments available for penile cancer.
  • Advanced penile cancer can be difficult to cure, but it responds well to some cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or both.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of penile cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

Penile cancer survival
Location of Tumour5-year relative survival

Penile cancer that is contained within the penis (stages 0–II)

80%–100%

Penile cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes* (stage III and some stage IV)

40%–80%

Penile cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body (some stage IV)

11%

*The number of lymph nodes and the group of lymph nodes the cancer has spread to also play a role in predicting survival. Men who have cancer in only one lymph node in the groin (inguinal lymph node) have an 80% chance of being alive at least 5 years after their diagnosis. Men who have cancer in more than 2 inguinal lymph nodes or in another group of lymph nodes have a 40% chance of being alive at least 5 years after their diagnosis.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of people who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. However, people may live much longer than 5 years.

Questions about survival

People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • a man’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis

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