Penis and scrotum
Squamous cell carcinoma and variants
Papillary carcinoma

Authors: Antonio Cubilla, M.D., Alcides Chaux, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 4 April 2018, last major update May 2010

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Papillary carcinoma penis

Cite this page: Cubilla, A., Chaux, A. Papillary carcinoma. website. Accessed December 14th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Slow growing, low grade verruciform variant of squamous cell carcinoma representing 5 - 15% of all penile carcinomas (Anal Quant Cytol Histol 2007;29:185) and 27 - 53% of all verruciform tumors
  • Diagnosis is made after exclusion of other verruciform tumors
  • ICD-O: 8050 / 3
  • Mean age 57 years (range 26 - 84 years)
  • Usually involves glans, possibly with foreskin and coronal sulcus
Clinical features
Gross description
  • Usually in glans but extension to coronal sulcus and inner foreskin is common
  • Large gray-white exophytic destructive lesion
  • Mean tumor size 5.5 cm (range 1 - 9 cm)
  • Cut surface shows pearly white papillomatous tissue, poor demarcation between tumor and stroma
Gross images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Tumor of foreskin

Longitudinal section after removal of foreskin

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Well differentiated papillary squamous neoplasm
  • Prominent hyperkeratosis and acanthosis
  • Complex papillae with irregular fibrovascular cores
  • Irregular / infiltrative tumor base
  • Frequent association with squamous hyperplasia (74%), differentiated penile intraepithelial neoplasia (46%) and lichen sclerosus (34%)
  • May have keratin cysts and intraepithelial abscesses
  • High grade foci are unusual
  • No koilocytotic changes
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

AFIP images:

Surface papillarity and focal invasion

Well differentiated papillae but no koilocytosis

Invasion at the base

Contributed by Alcides Chaux, M.D. and Antonio Cubilla, M.D.

Complex papillae


Negative stains
Differential diagnosis