Tests That Help Evaluate Penile Cancer

If your doctor suspects that a change in the skin of your penis might be cancer, a small piece of tissue from the area of concern, called a biopsy, will be sent to be tested. If the pathologist (a doctor who examines the tissue under a microscope) has found cancer in your biopsy, your doctor may order more tests to help decide which treatment plan would be best. These tests can also help stage the cancer, or see if it has spread. You may need more than one of these tests.


This test uses sound waves to look for abnormalities in the tissues of your penis. It can also help tell how deeply a tumor has invaded the penis.

Computed tomography (CT) scan

A CT scan can show if the lymph nodes are enlarged in the pelvis, abdomen, or both. During this test, an X-ray beam moves around the body and takes pictures from many angles.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

A magnetic resonance image (MRI) uses magnets and radio waves instead of X-rays to take pictures of the inside of the body. Like CT scans, MRIs can show enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen or in the pelvis.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

This is a type of biopsy that can help a doctor find the first lymph node, called a sentinel node, which drains from the tumor. If the sentinel node contains cancer, the surgeon may remove more lymph nodes. If the sentinel node does not have cancer, you don’t need to have other lymph nodes removed. Researchers are still testing this approach to obtaining lymph nodes.