Penis & scrotum

Squamous cell carcinoma and variants

Papillary carcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 May 2010

Minor changes: 28 October 2020

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Papillary carcinoma penis

Alcides Chaux, M.D.
Antonio L. Cubilla, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 874
Page views in 2021 to date: 784
Cite this page: Chaux A, Cubilla AL. Papillary carcinoma. website. Accessed October 23rd, 2021.
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

AFIP images

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

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

Complex papillae


AFIP images

Surface papillarity and focal invasion

Well differentiated papillae but no koilocytosis

Invasion at the base

Negative stains
Differential diagnosis
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