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Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat penile cancer. The role of chemotherapy in treating penile cancer is still evolving.
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer. It can be a topical therapy applied to the skin of the penis. It can also be a systemic therapysystemic therapyTreatment that travels through the bloodstream to reach cells all over the body. that circulates throughout the body and destroys cancer cells, including those that may have broken away from the primary tumour.
Chemotherapy may be used:
Drugs, doses and schedules vary from person to person.
Chemotherapy for penile cancer may be given as a topical or systemic treatment.
The most common topical chemotherapy drug used to treat precancerous conditions or cancer on the surface of the penis (superficial) is 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU). It is usually applied twice a day for several weeks.
Systemic chemotherapy drugs are given in 3-4 week cycles. Each cycle is followed by a rest period so the body can recover. The most common systemic chemotherapy drugs used to treat penile cancer are:
Combinations of chemotherapy drugs may be more effective than drugs used alone, but there are often more side effects when more than one drug is used. The most common chemotherapy combinations used to treat penile cancer are:
For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.