Penile Cancer

Manhood, mental well-being and self-confidence

As people come to terms with their diagnosis, think about what it might mean for their family, or adjust to the changes in their life following treatment for penile cancer, they are likely to experience a mix of feelings and emotions (see ‘Feelings and emotions’). Losing part, or all, of the penis through surgery left some of the men we interviewed feeling like they were ‘less of a man’. Others, while recognising that losing this part of their body has been difficult, say that there is much more to being a man than their penis. Some of the men we interviewed, that had a wife or partner, said that their support (see ‘Support of others’) helped to make them feel more secure about their identity as a ‘man’.
At times, the mental and emotional impact of having cancer can feel as great as, or even greater, than the physical effects. Some of the people we interviewed found that there were times when they felt depressed, or their mood swung between highs and lows. Long after the physical wounds of surgery had healed, some men found that the psychological impact of their cancer continued because they continued to be troubled by thoughts about how their lives had changed.
After treatment, the men thought about their cancer less and less. Some of the men said that they didn’t think about their cancer often and they felt as if they were as strong emotionally as they were before they found out they had penile cancer. Nevertheless, thoughts about the cancer did sometimes return making them question why they got it and what will happen to them in the future.
To help them cope with the emotional impact of their diagnosis and treatment, several of the men we interviewed tried to maintain a positive attitude, often using humour to ease the burden. This often meant laughing with others or learning to accept their help (see ‘The support of others’).
A number of men talked about the importance of having a strong support network in helping them to cope with the mental and emotional impact of their experience, be it from friends, family or a strong faith (see ‘The support of others’). Several said that sharing their concerns and being open about it had helped them to maintain their self-confidence and their self-esteem.
Counselling and psychological services were rarely considered or offered as ways of supporting these men to manage with the emotional impact of their diagnosis and treatment. Of the men we interviewed, some said that they wouldn’t have used such services even if there were offered, although Mark found that counselling helped.

Last reviewed July 2017.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email