Penises may come in all sizes and colors, but shape could predispose you to certain cancers, suggests a new study. It turns out that men who suffer from a curved penis, also known as Peyronie’s disease, are at a higher risk of developing testicular, stomach and skin cancer. While not all curved penises lead to cancer, it’s important to keep a close eye on the condition. So, read on for signs and symptoms.
Does your penis curve?
It’s not uncommon for men to have penises that curve to either the left or the right. And for the most part, it’s completely normal. But if your penis curves, you may be at risk of developing certain cancers, according to research.
A large-scale study that looked at over 1.5 million men was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. It turns out that there’s a link between Peyronie’s disease (a condition that causes men to have curved erections) and cancers of the stomach, skin and testes, reports The Telegraph.
Also known as penile fibrosis, Peyronie’s is a connective tissue disorder that replaces the normally elastic fibers in the penis with fibrous plaque, resulting in penile deformity. A 2016 study published in Plos One, estimated that 0.7 percent of American men definitely have Peyronie’s disease while 11 percent possibly had the disease.
Forty percent higher risk of testicular cancer
Those with the condition, according to the study by Baylor College, found that 40 percent of men with the disease had a larger risk of testicular cancer. They also have a 29 percent greater risk of developing melanoma and a 40 percent higher risk of developing stomach cancer.
Researchers also looked at a father and son who both suffered from Peyronie’s disease. They discovered that each shared a gene known to predispose people to urological cancers.
“We think this is important because these conditions are largely taken for granted,” said Dr. Alexander Pastuszak, leader of the study to The Telegraph.
He further said: “While they’re significant in the sexual and reproductive life cycles of these patients, linking them to other disorders suggest that these men should be monitored for development of these disorders disproportionately in contrast to the rest of the population.”
Signs and symptoms
Having a curved penis isn’t necessarily a cause for concern unless the bend is significant, occurs along with pain or interferes with sexual function, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Signs and symptoms of Peyronie’s disease can appear suddenly or develop gradually over time. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Scar tissue that can be felt under the skin of the penis like flat lumps or a band of hard tissue.
- A significant bend in the penis that curves upward, downward or bent to one side. Sometimes the erect penis might have indentations or an hourglass appearance with a tight, narrow band around the shaft.
- Problems getting or maintaining an erection.
- Sudden shortening of the penis.
- Pain with or without an erection.
Most often due to trauma
Peyronie’s disease often occurs in a mild form and generally heals without treatment within six to 15 months, suggests the Cleveland Clinic. In these types of cases, the disease does not progress past the inflammation phase. However, in more severe cases, the disease can last for years.
The exact cause behind Peyronie’s is unknown. When it happens, it can happen quickly, last a short time and then simply go away without the need for treatment. Most often the cause is due to trauma. However, other times it may be caused by heredity. Some studies suggest that a man who has a relative with Peyronie’s has a greater risk of developing the disease himself.
The disease is fairly rare
While the idea that your curved penis could possibly lead you down the road to cancer is scary, to say the least — don’t stress. Easier said than done, right? In addition to the curve, Peyronie’s disease can cause general pain as well as painful erections. This can obviously lead to emotional distress, affecting a man’s desire and ability to function during sex.
But the disease is rare. According to urologist Dr. Jonathan P Jarow for John Hopkins Medicine, “Peyronie’s Disease is like arthritis of the penis.” It’s a fairly rare disease, diagnosed in only 26 out of 100,000 men each year. Most are men in their 50s and 60s.
Nevertheless, if you have a significantly curved penis or know that you have Peyronie’s disease, make sure to keep a close eye on your symptoms. And of course, as always, take charge of your health and talk to your doctor about that curve.
— Katherine Marko