6,500 penises amputated as penile cancer spreads in Brazil

About 6,500 men have had their penis amputated due to penile cancer as the disease spreads at a rapid rate in Brazil and around the world.


Penile cancer is rare, but incidences and mortality rates are on the rise around the world.


According to the latest studies, Brazil has one of the highest incidence rates of 2.1 per 100,000 men.


Though penile cancer is actually rare, its incidence and rates of mortality have been rising all over the world. In fact, rates are expected to go up by a whopping 77% in the coming 26 years.


In Germany, rates saw a 50% increase between 1961 and 2012. A significant spike was also observed in the UK.


For Brazil, between the years 2012 and 2022, a total of 21,000 cases were reported. This was according to the Ministry of Health of the country. Because of this, more than 4,000 deaths and over 6,500 penile amputations have been seen in the past decade.


The penile amputation rate is equivalent to an average of two per day.


The highest incident rate was observed in Brazil’s poorest state, Maranhão, which was equivalent to 6.1 men per 100,000.


When it comes to amputation, a partial amputation may still allow urine to exit the penis. However, for total amputation, the patient’s urethral orifice would get moved to the perineum in between the anus and scrotum. Because of this, the patient would need to sit down in order to urinate.


According to Mauricio Dener Cordeiro from the Brazilian Society of Urology, persistent HPV (human papillomavirus) infection is a primary risk factor.


This infection could be transmitted via sex. It could also result in penis and mouth cancers in some cases.


Dr. Cordeiro shared that mass HPV vaccination is crucial, as it has been seen to be highly effective in preventing such lesions. However, he adds that Brazil has vaccination rates that do not meet the required level for effectiveness.


The National Health Service also says that smoking could also increase penile cancer risk. One may also have a higher likelihood of getting penile cancer if they experience problems pulling back the foreskin to maintain the cleanliness of the penis. This condition is known as phimosis.


Neil Barber, the Clinical Urology Lead at the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, also explains that in the population of circumcised individuals, penile cancer is nearly unheard of. Infections under the foreskin, poor hygiene, and conditions such as phimosis are risk factors.


Other established risk factors for penile cancer include unprotected sex (which specifically involves not using condoms). Poor hygiene could also exacerbate the risks of such a route.


Dr. Cordeiro noted that penile cancer is a rare condition that can be highly prevented. He recommends the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. He also advises going through surgery for foreskin removal in phimosis cases in order to reduce penile cancer risk.

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