Radiation therapy for penile cancer

Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy X-rays. A machine directs the rays of energy to the area of cancer, with a goal to kill or shrink cancer cells.

When might radiation therapy be used for penile cancer?

Radiation is most often used along with other penile cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor may advise radiation to:

  • Serve as the main treatment, sometimes along with chemotherapy.
  • Shrink a penile tumor to make it easier to operate on before surgery.
  • Kill any remaining small areas of cancer following a surgery.
  • Treat a single area of cancer spread, such as a tumor in the brain or an adrenal gland. This may be done along with surgery to treat the penile tumor.
  • Relieve symptoms such as pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, cough, or problems caused by a spread of cancer.

Types of radiation therapy

  • External beam radiation therapy. This treatment is the most common type of radiation therapy used to treat penile cancer. This treatment focuses radiation from outside the body on the cancer in order to eliminate cancer cells.
  • Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy). This treatment type is used to shrink the size of tumors in the airways in order to relieve painful symptoms. Your doctor will place a small source of radioactive material into the cancer or the airway where that cancer lives, and it is usually removed after a short time. This treatment is often performed using a bronchoscope, but may also be done during surgery.

Learn more

For more information on diagnosis, treatment and more of penile cancer, visit our penile cancer information pages below.

Markey Cancer Center is NCI-designated

The UK Markey Cancer Center was first designated by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 – a distinction that recognizes our extraordinary ability to provide world-class care for our patients. We are the only NCI-designated cancer center in Kentucky and one of only 71 in the nation.