Penis cancer cases are rising around the world and are expected to surge a staggering 77% in the next 26 years, according to an alarming new investigation by BBC.

The British news outlet says cases in Germany increased by 50% between 1961 and 2012, while the UK has also seen a significant spike.

“Although developing countries still bear the higher incidence and mortality of penile cancer, the incidence is on the rise in most European countries,” researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University in China declared, following a large-scale analysis involving the latest data from 43 countries.

Brazil has one the highest rates of penile cancer in the world, trailing only behind Uganda. Between 2012 and 2022, there were 21,000 reported cases of penile cancer in Brazil, with 4000 men succumbing to the disease.

Another 6500 of the country’s men were forced to have their appendages amputated.


The unkindest cut of all

Brazilian doctors believe low HPV [human papillomavirus] vaccination rates are contributing to the rise in case numbers.

Mauricio Dener Cordeiro of the Brazilian Society of Urology says HPV is “one of the main risk factors” of penis cancer.

“In Brazil, despite the availability of the vaccine, the HPV vaccination rate remains low for girls – reaching only 57% – and for boys, it doesn’t exceed 40%,” he told the BBC. “The ideal coverage to prevent the disease is 90%.”

Meanwhile, other doctors have weighed in on what to do to reduce your risk.

“Established risk factors also include unprotected sex, specifically not using condoms, with poor hygiene further increasing risks,” Dr Neil Barber, Clinical Lead for Urology at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC.

He said cases were also primarily seen in patients who are uncircumcised.

Meanwhile, other doctors say an ageing population is also contributing to case numbers as penis cancer is most common in men aged in their 60s.


What to watch for

Men experiencing discharge from the penis, a change in colour to the penis or a marked change in sex drive should see their doctor as early detection is key to avoiding amputation.

However, despite the significant spike in diagnoses worldwide, men can rest relatively easily as cancer is still one of the rarer ones.

In Uganda, between 2008 and 2012, the penile cancer rate was 2.2 per 100,000 men, while in Brazil it was 2.1 per 100,000 men.


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