Unless you were on a sabbatical to Mars, you probably heard the story of a man who received a penis transplant recently. Setting aside all of the jokes and uncomfortable thoughts, this procedure could be an important medical procedure for men who have lost their penis through injury or disease.
For example, veterans of wars are at grave risk to injuries that cause the loss of their penis. Mines and IEDs in war are particularly damaging in ways that can cause permanent trauma to a soldier’s penis. Having a method to replace it, like a transplant, can be a great way to improve the soldier’s mental health and personal self-image.
However, the transplant that the 64 year old man in Boston had recently had nothing to do with being a soldier or being in some traumatic accident. The man, Thomas Manning, had to have his penis surgically removed in 2012 because of penile cancer, a rare, but obviously, devastating disease.
Avoiding a penis transplant
Penile cancer, or cancer of the penis, is one of the rarer cancers in the USA – on average, there are about 1,000 cases per year. But it’s not just some random cancer that happens to a small number of people – about 63% of cases result from human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) common across the world.
HPV is not only linked to penile cancer – it is linked to several other cancers. Anal (men and women, 91% linked to HPV), cervical (women, nearly all linked to HPV), oralpharynx (men and women, about 72% linked to HPV), vaginal (women, about 75% linked to HPV), and vulvar (women, about 68% linked to HPV) cancers. All of these cancers are serious (if not deadly), and, as you can see, closely linked to HPV infections.
Even though penile cancer is extremely rare, is there was a way to actually prevent the diseases, along with the possibility of losing your penis, would you not choose the prevention? A penis transplant sounds like a good treatment, but right now only three cases have been done, and there’s no good data on the long-term viability of the transplant.
Actually, there is a slam dunk prevention for getting most HPV infections. It’s very safe (unless you buy into the myths pushed by some people). And it works.
So all you men (and women, since the infection does pass from woman to man and vice versa), do you want to prevent the infection that leads to the cancer that might cause you to lose your penis? Well, it’s the cancer preventing HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil.
Now let me be clear. Not all genital and mouth cancers are related to the HPV infection. But most are, and they can be prevented by the vaccine.
And if you’re a guy who would rather not even consider the possibility of a serious disease involving the penis, why not take a few minutes and get the Gardasil vaccination? You will be protected from 9 different subtypes of HPV, which are related to serious cancers, genital warts, and other conditions.
I don’t know if the penis transplant is going to be a viable medical procedure for men who lose their penises to disease or trauma. There have only been three cases in the world, so it’s very early in research on the procedure. For those who have had traumatic injury and loss of their penis from war or other accidents, this may be one of the great advances in medicine.
But for those of you, men or women, who are at risk for HPV related cancers, then get the cancer preventing HPV vaccine. There are so few ways to actually prevent cancer, why not go for the slam dunk? Your long-term health will appreciate the effort.