What is erythroplasia of Queyrat?

Erythroplasia of queyrat is a type of skin cancer of the penis, most often seen in men who are not circumcised. It is usually not aggressive, but it can become locally invasive, and it is recommended that a man who may have this condition receive immediate treatment. Men who have erythroplasia of queyrat may initially notice redness and irritation before discolored lesions develop. The skin sometimes swells and can break and split.

This condition is a form of squamous cell carcinoma that develops in the upper cells of the epithelium. It is also known as Bowen's disease of the penis and can be related to sun or chemical exposure, although not always. Some men have coinfections with conditions such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which can complicate treatment. This condition usually appears in older men and is sometimes identified late, after neighboring lymph nodes are already involved.

The first signs of erythroplasia of queyrat may seem like mild irritation or a flare-up of a sexually transmitted infection. Patients should take note of skin changes anywhere on the body, including the penis, and should seek care if the changes are widespread, do not go away, or progress. Mild redness may not necessarily be a sign of disease, but if it spreads, the skin changes texture, or the lesion begins to leak fluid, this is a sign of a medical problem. Men who have a history of sexually transmitted infections may also want to know that the inflammation associated with such conditions may predispose them to cancers later in life.

A doctor may assess a patient and take a small scraping of skin for biopsy. A pathologist can view this sample under a microscope to determine what types of cell changes are occurring and can make a recommendation for treatment. In the case of what appears to be an aggressive and invasive cancer, the pathologist might recommend skipping the more severe treatments. Milder cases of erythroplasia of queyrat that are detected early can be treated conservatively, which can be less traumatic for the patient.

Conservative treatment for erythroplasia of queyrat involves topical application of creams to treat the condition. Some patients may also take oral chemotherapy to limit the spread of cancer cells. If these measures are not enough, surgery to remove the cancerous skin may be necessary. In surgery, the surgeon will also remove the margins to limit the chance of recurrence. If the cancer has progressed well into the penile tissue, the patient may need reconstructive surgery to repair the shape and appearance of their penis.

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