Peyronie’s disease is caused by a buildup of scar tissue in the penis. As the scar tissue (plaque) builds up, it causes the penis to bend, which can result in painful erections and make sex difficult or impossible. Now, a study has found a link between penis shape and one’s risk of cancer. The study by the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas looked at patient data from 1.5 million men. They found that people with a curved penis had a much higher chance of developing several types of cancer.
The study, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, found that people with penile fibrosis (also known as Peyronie’s disease) had a 40 percent higher risk of developing both testicular cancer and stomach cancer, as well as a 29 percent increase in chance of developing skin cancer.
Peyronie’s disease is thought to affect between 0.5 and 13 percent of men in the United States, though many people are unaware they have the condition, according to the Urology Department of Weill Cornell Medicine.
Peyronie's disease is caused by a buildup of scar tissue in the penis, which can cause it to bend. Logika600/Shutterstock.
The team from Baylor College said that men with the condition should be monitored for cancer due to their higher risk.
The researchers, led by Dr Alexander Pastuszak, also conducted a genetic analysis of a patient and his father – both of whom had penile fibrosis – and found that they both had genes that put them at risk of melanoma, testicular, and prostate cancer.
Speaking at the conference, Pastuszak said that while they need to translate the findings to a clinical population, there could be a genetic link between Peyronie’s disease and some cancers in men.
“We think this is important because these conditions are largely taken for granted and while they are significant in the sexual and reproductive life cycle of these patients, linking them to these other disorders suggests that these men should be monitored for development of these disorders,”
At the moment, however, it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of people who have the condition.
In a previous study on people with Peyronie’s, researchers at the University of Istanbul suggested that Peyronie’s disease could affect a higher proportion of males than believed, but that a precise number is hard to come by “because of patients’ reluctance to report this embarrassing condition to their physicians.”