Invasive penile cancer is a rare malignancy with considerable morbidity and mortality. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 2320 new cases of invasive penile cancer in the United States in 2018, of which primary penile squamous cell carcinoma (PSCC) represents the majority.1 In one study, the mean age at diagnosis was 60 years, with PSCC occurring only rarely in men younger than 35 years of age (estimated incidence, 0.01 cases per 100,000 individuals).2 Presentation to a physician generally occurs more than 1 year after initial onset of symptoms or clinical lesion(s). This delay in diagnosis and treatment often results in disease progression,3 which can have a devastating outcome.4 Therefore, physicians should maintain a high index of clinical suspicion for PSCC, particularly in young or middle-aged patients in whom presentation of PSCC is uncommon. The most commonly associated risk factors for PSCC include lack of circumcision (specifically during the neonatal period), high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and tobacco use.5 Chronic alcoholism also has been linked to PSCC.6 It also is common in patients without health insurance.7 We report the case of a 27-year-old circumcised man who presented with invasive PSCC following a diagnosis of condyloma 8 years prior by an outside physician.
A 27-year-old man presented for evaluation of persistent genital warts that had been diagnosed 8 years prior. His medical history was remarkable for intravenous drug use, active hepatitis C infection, tobacco smoking, chronic alcohol use, and mild asthma. Eight years prior to the current presentation, 7 lesions had developed on the penis and were diagnosed by an outside physician as condyloma, which was treated with cryotherapy and topical imiquimod. All of the lesions except for 1 responded to treatment. The residual lesion continued to grow until the size prompted him to contact his primary care physician, who referred him for dermatologic evaluation. The patient cited lack of health insurance as the primary reason he did not seek follow-up treatment after the initial evaluation and treatment 8 years prior.
Physical examination at the current presentation revealed a circumcised man with an asymptomatic, 2.6-cm, pink, friable, verrucous mass on the left lateral penile shaft (Figure 1) and otherwise unremarkable penile architecture. A clinically enlarged, nontender right inguinal lymph node was noted as well as subtle enlargement of a left inguinal lymph node. An excisional biopsy was performed with pathologic evaluation confirming a diagnosis of high-grade invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) arising in the setting of squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Figure 2). Lymphovascular invasion was highlighted on cluster of differentiation 31 and podoplanin immunostaining (Figure 3). The patient was subsequently referred to urology and hematology-oncology specialists for further evaluation. Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis confirmed the contralaterally enlarged right inguinal lymph node discovered during physical examination and mildly enlarged ipsilateral inguinal, obturator, and external iliac nodes. Computed tomography–guided fine-needle aspiration of the right inguinal node confirmed the diagnosis of contralateral locoregional metastasis. Further evaluation with positron emission tomography/CT imaging revealed only a single metabolically active region confined to the right inguinal node. The patient’s history of active hepatitis C complicated proposed neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens. Ultimately, after discussion with multiple surgical and oncologist specialties within our institution and others, a treatment plan was formulated. The patient underwent robotic laparoscopic bilateral pelvic and inguinal lymph node dissection and re-excision of the primary PSCC, with one of 15 right superficial inguinal nodes testing positive for tumor cells; the left superficial and bilateral deep inguinal lymph nodes were negative for SCC.
Repeat positron emission tomography/CT imaging at 6 months’ follow-up showed no evidence of active disease. On 1-year follow-up, a CT scan did not show any new or residual disease, but the patient continued to have edema of the bilateral legs, which began after lymph node dissection and was managed with physical therapy and compression stockings.