Pattern and clinical management of penile cancer in Rwanda
Introduction: Penile cancer is rare in developed countries but has a high prevalence in some developing countries. Surgery includes inguinal lymphadenectomy, which remains the mainstay treatment of the disease.
Objective: This study reports on the epidemiological profile of penile cancer and clinical management options in Rwanda.
Patients and methods: From January 2015 to June 2016, a multicenter cross-sectional, prospective cohort study was conducted involving all male patients presenting with penile cancer after two national radio campaigns and a Ministry of Health instruction to all district hospitals. All patients with positive biopsy were included. Surgical treatment aligned with published guidelines. Clinical characteristics, surgery, pathology, and early follow-up data were collected.
Results: Over 18 consecutive months, 30 male patients were enrolled. The mean age was 60 years [range 33–83]. All patients were uncircumcised before symptom onset; 50% had phimosis and 20% were HIV- positive. The estimated prevalence of penile cancer in Rwanda was 0.37 per 100,000 men. At presentation, 96.7% of patients had a T2-4 disease and 43.3% were with clinically non-palpable inguinal lymph nodes (cNO). After penectomy, bilateral inguinal lymphadenectomy was performed in 10 (33.3%) patients (modified and radical in 16 and 4 limbs, respectively). Complications included surgical site infection (10%), lymphocele (10%), urethral meatus stenosis (6.7%), skin necrosis (3.3%) and two (6.7%) patients with metastatic disease died in hospital.
Conclusion: Penile cancer is a rare but significant disease in Rwanda. Patients present with advanced disease. After treatment of the primary tumor, modified inguinal lymphadenectomy appears to be a safe method of cure and staging for patients with clinically impalpable inguinal lymph nodes. Our early results provide a compelling insight into this rare but serious disease.