A-Z

Penile Cancer

Recovery from penile cancer surgery

Men who have had surgery for penile cancer will usually be fitted with a urinary catheter during their operation, which will stay in place for a few days and allow them to urinate into a bag (see ‘Using the toilet after penile cancer surgery’). Most had the catheter removed before they went home and had to prove that they could urinate unaided before they were discharged, though a few went home with their catheter in place. Those who had an operation to remove lymph nodes had a tube inserted on one or both sides of the groin to drain lymphatic fluid into a bag. Again, these were removed after a few days or weeks (see ‘Lymphoedema & the impact of lymph node removal’).
 
After their operation, the men were visited by the surgeon to tell them how the operation had gone. Dressings and stitches or staples were usually removed after a few days; Jordan said his fell out after two days. Some men were allowed to shower the day after surgery whereas others had to wait a few days. Looking at the operation scar for the first time could be nerve racking and some men were shocked at the results while others were less concerned about how their penis looked.
 

John Z was anxious about seeing the scars from his penectomy but a nurse removed his dressings so he could have a shower, so he had to look at it.

John Z was anxious about seeing the scars from his penectomy but a nurse removed his dressings so he could have a shower, so he had to look at it.

Age at interview: 68
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 64
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So how long after the operation was it before you saw the results of the surgery?

Going back to being a coward I daren’t look. I could see the tubes coming from my pyjamas and a bag that I knew I’d got a catheter in. But I didn’t look anything until a nurse come along said why hadn’t I had a shower that morning or a bath. I said, ‘Well I didn’t know whether... what... whether I was allowed to or not or…’. She said, ‘Oh yes you need... need a shower’. With which she undone some bandages that was holding the catheter against my body. Took them away, she said, ‘You’re alright now. You can go into the shower’. I said, ‘Right, fair enough’. And I went in and had the shower and but then I looked down [slight chuckle] and see what’s happened and… that was about it, you know. Apart from, I hadn’t looked previously to see what had been going on.
 

 

The surgeon visited James the day after he had his cancer removed to tell him the operation had...

Text only
Read below

The surgeon visited James the day after he had his cancer removed to tell him the operation had...

Age at interview: 67
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 66
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

And when you came to how did you feel?

How did I feel... well happy it was all over, I should think...The following day the... the doctor who’d done the operation and came and had a word with me and said he’d got everything, everything had gone according to plan and he was quite pleased with how it... how it had come away like. So, I think it was more the following day when I got the results, rather than the same day but they were a lot better than what you could have hoped or whatever, you know it he’d caught it.

And how long was it before you were able to see the results of the operation yourself?

See the results...

See what your penis looked like?

The following day, basically, yeah the following day, yeah. Yeah the bandage were removed and whatever and…. I think they wanted... they wanted to air to get to it more than anything to help heal it rather than have it bandaged up so yeah.

And what did you think about the results of the operation? What did you think about how your penis looked like?

I wasn’t really bothered what it looked like as long as I was alright in general. It’s not like it... it’s something that... that’s on your face that you can see, is it? It’s … it doesn’t really matter to me.
 

The amount of pain experienced after the surgery, called ‘post-operative pain’, will depend on the extent of the surgery. While some men said they had no pain, others mentioned discomfort or soreness rather than pain, and others needed pain relief medication. Any pain usually disappeared after a few days. Some men were given a pain reliever called ‘morphine’ or ‘diamorphine’ in a machine that they controlled. This is often called a ‘patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump’, which allows the patient to administer safe doses when they feel the need for pain relief.
 

Mick had a partial penectomy; he felt no pain during or after the operation and went home after...

Mick had a partial penectomy; he felt no pain during or after the operation and went home after...

Age at interview: 69
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 67
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So and then I finished up going to the hospital in [city]. And that’s where I had my operation and what have you. And err which they did look after me, which I’ve got to say. There was no pain. I had my operation and I’ve had no pain after it, which… I thought there would be. But err...and then I thought there might be some treatment after it' tablets or medicine or something or needles err… but I didn’t get any... anything. But no pain there. And they let me go in 3 days.

 

Steve felt soreness rather than pain after having lymph nodes removed; neither was it painful...

Steve felt soreness rather than pain after having lymph nodes removed; neither was it painful...

Age at interview: 71
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 65
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So can you just describe the operation on your lymph nodes? How was that compared to the original one?

I came back with …I had a skin graft on the... on the penis obviously, they have to rebuild as much as they can. So you... you couldn’t move for... five days I think it was. That was unpleasant. But the lymph nodes I had got seven staples each side of my stomach and they allowed me to come out the following day. And I’d gone by Tube and it wasn’t very pleasant going through the Tube at the rush hour with a bag in front of me [laughs]… guarding myself as much as I could. But no that was easy com...in comparison.

Was it painful?

No... not... it was sore but not desperately painful.

And has that operation impacted in your life in anyway?


None at all. None at all. I went to the local nurse in the health centre, took the staples out and I think that was the last time I even thought about it until today. It was all that easy. I didn’t find the staples everybody said, ‘Oh they’re painful when they come out’. No I didn’t find any problems at all.
 

 

After his partial penectomy and reconstruction, Jordan was given morphine via a pump that he...

After his partial penectomy and reconstruction, Jordan was given morphine via a pump that he...

Age at interview: 58
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 57
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Were you in any pain after the operation?

Not, not vastly, I’d just say discomfort. They gave me the morphine and a little a little button on a lead, that if I wanted to increase the… But I hardly needed that at all. I think after about three days I had even dispensed with the painkillers because I’m not much of a one for the painkillers. And that was only paracetamol anyway, but they were available. So…
 

Some men experienced complications after surgery. For instance, Mark had difficulties urinating after his penectomy; this was investigated and corrected during a later operation to remove lymph nodes. After having lymph nodes removed, the wounds in Peter’s groin wouldn't heal and were leaking fluid, so he had another operation to remove scar tissue that was causing the problem. Some men developed infections requiring treatment with antibiotics.
 

David developed an infection after having lymph nodes surgically removed; the District Nurse was...

David developed an infection after having lymph nodes surgically removed; the District Nurse was...

Age at interview: 70
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Anyway I went in on the 16th. I had the operation and was out I was... oh no that’s right I was in for about eight days because the worry is about getting infection after the operation. I think this is probably a standard process. They thought I was clear. I came I came home for three days. The district nurse didn’t was got was very anxious about what, the redness I was developing, the soreness. So I went back to Accident and Emergency and they readmitted me straight away. So I was in for about another seven days after that. But again the treatment I had on the ward was excellent. The only delay was when I went in the second time it took ages to get the antibiotics and that was all to do with getting a prescription from a doctor which is always frustrating because that’s the only reason you’re back in. You know, you’re there and of course what you want is intravenous antibiotic. But it took I must have it took nearly half a day to get started on that. So that was that was kind of like frustrating.

But the general treatment on the ward on both occasions, with both the initial and the follow-up, was excellent.
 



Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated January 2015.
donate
Previous Page
Next Page