Total Penectomy

This is an operation to remove the whole of the penis. The urethra will be surgically reshaped to form a special urinary drainage passage called a perineal urethrostomy. This will mean that men will need to sit down on a toilet to pass urine. This type of operation is likely to take several hours.
This surgery will affect a mans body image and it is very important for men and their partners to:

  • Ask their surgeon or health professional to give them as much information as possible with regard to these changes.
  • Men should ask their specialist nurse to discuss the treatment that they are having and what to expect immediately after, and in the long term following treatment. If possible they should try and involve their partner and family as they will be affected by these changes too.
  • If men are having difficulty in preparing for their treatment either emotionally or psychologically they can ask their specialist team about counselling; talking to a healthcare professional to express their fears or concerns.

After surgery

  •  Painkillers will be given on a regular basis. It is important that men take painkillers regularly and not just when pain is experienced.
  •  Blood or fluid may gather around the operation site and men will usually have a small plastic tube called a wound drain inserted near to the operation site which will allow these substances to drain out naturally and allow healing to take place. It is usually removed after 2 weeks but may need to remain in place for up to a month (see picture below).
  • It will take some time for the body to fully recover from this operation and men will need to take things easy for 4 – 6 weeks after surgery. They may need to wear anti embolism stockings (anti blood clot stockings) to protect the circulation in the legs for some time after the operation and may be given blood thinning medication.
  • An appointment will usually be made for a few weeks to check that the operation site is healing satisfactorily. A community nurse can visit men at home to check that the site remains clean and healthy
  • The wound will have dissolvable stitches which will take 4 – 6 weeks to gradually dissolve.


Total Penectomy

  • Always ask the healthcare team exactly what the surgery will involve and what to expect after the operation.
  • Plan ahead with regard to time off work and allowing for the healing process.


Men should contact their healthcare team if they experience any of the following:

  • Persistent bleeding from the wound.
  • Uncontrolled pain.
  • A high temperature and shaking or feeling as if they have a bad cold which could be a sign of infection.
  • Prolonged swelling, redness or a foul smelling discharge from around the wound site which could indicate localised infection.
  • Difficulty in passing urine.

To read personal stories of men who have been affected and treated for penile cancer please click here


Last updated 26/1/17 Next update due July 2017


References available on request.

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