Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Penile Cancer: Carcinoma in situ

Carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the penis refers to a squamous cell cancer limited to the most superficial layers of the penile skin. This cancer is also known as Erythroplasia of Queyrat if on the glans (head) of the penis or Bowen Disease if on the shaft of the penis and was covered in a previous blog. While CIS is technically a non-invasive cancer and believed to have low metastatic potential, it has features of high-grade (potentially aggressive) cancer that warrants careful management.


CIS was inititally described by Queyrat in 1911 as a red, velvety, well-marginated lesion of the glans penis or prepuce (of uncircumcised men). Bowen described a similar lesion of the penile skin in 1912. The original description of Bowen disease related to subsequent internal malignancy, however subsequent studies have demonstrated that this relationship was nothing more than coincidence.[1]


Presentation and Prognosis

CIS has a similar clinical presentation whether on the glans penis or shaft. As described above, CIS can appear as a red, velvety, well-marginated lesion on the penis. Alternatively the lesion can be scaly, crusted or ulcerated – similar in appearance to eczema or psoriasis. Development of metastasis for CIS is incredibly rare – however 10-33% of CIS on the glans and 5% of CIS on the shaft can progress to more invasive, dangerous disease.[2,3]



As CIS rarely metastasizes, treatment is focused on (1) confirmation of a non-invasive lesion, (2) resection of lesions with an adequate microscopic margin and (3) penis-sparing techniques if the lesion is on the glans. Confirmation of non-invasive malignancy may require multiple biopsies or complete excision of the area of concern. A 5mm margin if often adequate for lesions on the shaft, while circumcision will cure most cases of CIS on the prepuce. Lymph node dissection is only performed in cases suspicious for invasion or enlarged lymph nodes.

Penis-sparing treatments

Lesions of the glans penis can be difficult to treat surgically without distorting normal penile anatomy or sensation. A number of topical treatments including 5-fluorouracil, 5% imiquimod, laser ablation (YAG or KTP lasers) and radiation therapy have all been used with success.[4-10] For patients with large tumors or lesions refractory to topical treatment, local skin excision can be performed with skin grafting as needed.

Penile lesion (CIS) completely excised (left) and with a skin graft using non-hair bearing skin of the groin (right).

For patients with CIS involving the glans, partial or complete excision with partial or complete resurfacing can be performed.[11,12]

A. CIS on the glans penis, B. Glanular skin removed, C. Skin graft placed on the glans, D. Final, cosmetically pleasant result.  From Palminteri etal. [12]

These penile surgeries often involve a multidisciplinary approach including a urologic oncologist, plastic (reconstructive) surgeon and excellent pathologists to ensure eradication of the disease.  Penile cancer is a rare disease and balancing the risks of cancer with penile reconstruction and function is best done at a center with experience treating this disease.

  1. Anderson SL, Nielson A, and Reymann F: Relationship between Bowen disease and internal malignant tumors. Arch Dermatol 1973; 108: pp. 367.
  2. Buechner SA: Common skin disorders of the penis. BJU Int 2002; 90: pp. 498-506.
  3. Bleeker MCG, Heideman DAM, Snijders PJF, et al: Penile cancer: epidemiology, pathogenesis, and prevention. World J Urol 2009; 27: pp. 141-150.
  4. Harrington KJ, Price PM, Fry L, Witherow RO. Erythroplasia of Queyrat treated with isotretinoin. Lancet. Oct 16 1993;342(8877):994-5. 
  5. Micali G, Nasca MR, De Pasquale R. Erythroplasia of Queyrat treated with imiquimod 5% cream. J Am Acad Dermatol. Nov 2006;55(5):901-3. 
  6. Conejo-Mir JS, Munoz MA, Linares M, Rodriguez L, Serrano A. Carbon dioxide laser treatment of erythroplasia of Queyrat: a revisited treatment to this condition. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Sep 2005;19(5):643-4. 
  7. Arlette JP. Treatment of Bowen's disease and erythroplasia of Queyrat. Br J Dermatol. Nov 2003;149 Suppl 66:43-9. 
  8. Orengo I, Rosen T, Guill CK. Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma in situ of the penis with 5% imiquimod cream: a case report. J Am Acad Dermatol. Oct 2002;47(4 Suppl):S225-8. 
  9. Micali G, Lacarrubba F, Dinotta F, Massimino D, Nasca MR. Treating skin cancer with topical cream. Expert Opin Pharmacother. Jun 2010;11(9):1515-27. 
  10. Grabstald H, and Kelley CD: Radiation therapy of penile cancer. Urology 1980; 15: pp. 575-576.
  11. Pompeo AC, Zequi Sde C, Pompeo AS. Penile cancer: organ-sparing surgery. Curr Opin Urol. 2015 Mar;25(2):121-8. doi: 10.1097/MOU.0000000000000149.
  12. Palminteri E, Berdondini E, Lazzeri M, Mirri F, Barbagli G. Resurfacing and reconstruction of the glans penis. Eur Urol. 2007 Sep;52(3):893-8. Epub 2007 Jan 22.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Historical Contribution: 1964, Schirmer & Walton, Hypothermia and Kidney Function

Schirmer HKA, Walton K. The Effet of Hypothermia upon Respiration and Anerobic Glycolysis of Dog Kidney. Invest Urol. 1964. 1;6:604-9.


The first deliberate partial nephrectomy for the excision of a tumor was credited to Vincenz Czerny in 1887. Numerous studies over the next decades defined the surgical anatomy and feasibility of partial nephrectomy for a variety of localized kidney processes (including cancer). Lack of early diagnostics and technical challenges prevented the operation from being widely utilized in the early 1900's. While these early researchers investigated repair mechanisms of the kidney, advances in the understanding of segmental blood supply and renal hypothermia to prevent ischemic damage were not introduced until the 1950's and 1960's.[1] 
Horst Schirmer, MD

In 1964, Horst Schirmer and Kenneth Walton of the Brady Urological Institute investigated the effects of hypothermia on the kidney. Prior work demonstrated that, with local cooling, renal function would only be temporarily depressed and irreversible damage (under normothermic conditions) could be limited. They investigated ox'ygen consumption and glycolysis in the kidneys of dogs. They found:

  • With decreasing temperature, the reduction in glycolysis associated with ischemia was tempered (33% at 27C, 17% at 17C and near zero at 7C).
  • After achieving hypothermia of 7C, normal function returned after 1 hour.
  • Interruption of blood flow for 4 hours resulted in:
    • 75% reduction in function in the normothermic kidney
    • Unchanged function in the cooled (7C) kidney
  • By examining both tissue from the cortex and medulla of the kidney, the cortex is nearly 7x more active than the medulla – providing evidence that cortical cooling is sufficient to provide effective hypothermia.


To read the entire manuscript: follow the link above, visit the Centennial Website or click here.


HISTORICAL CONTRIBUTIONS highlight the greatest academic manuscripts from the Brady Urological Institute over the past 100 years.  As the Brady Urological Institute approaches its centennial, we will present a HISTORICAL CONTRIBUTION from each of the past 100 years.  In the most recent experience, the most highly cited article from each year is selected; older manuscripts were selected based on their perceived impact on the field.  We hope you enjoy! 

[1] Herr HW.A history of partial nephrectomy for renal tumors.J Urol. 2005 Mar;173(3):705-8.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Getting closer to an “quantitative” diagnosis of prostate cancer

Histomorphometry is the study of the microscopic organization and structure of tissue in a quantitative manner under the microscope. This process was briefly described in a prior blog, and often involves computer-assisted technology to provide objective measures cellular architecture to aide in diagnosis – a process that is often based on subjective classification of microscopic features.

Most cancers, prostate cancer included, are diagnosed by a pathologist – who examines tissue under a microscope to determine the presence and aggressiveness of a cancer. The future of digital pathology will likely use prostate cancer quantitative histomorphometry using computer-assisted scanned image features and may serve as a new and innovative predictive tool to improve determination of aggressive phenotypes of cancer. In prior work, Dr. Robert Veltri, PhD, of the Brady Urological Institute, demonstrated that a special "spectrophotometer" microscope was accurate and capable of predicting stage, recurrence and progression of prostate cancer when examining portions of prostate cancer slides.[1] 

An original, high-powered image of prostate cancer (a) is segmented into areas of individual nuclei (b), classified into individual sets (c) and segmented by the computer-alogorithm.  From Ali etal [2].

With collaborator, Anant Madabhushi, PhD, and his team at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Veltri is working to develop new techniques to examine the entire slide image in a high-throughput process. These novel tools could form the basis of future software tools to conduct, in cooperation with the pathologist, automated, rapid and reproducible identification and quantification of tissue histology morphologic and molecular events – enabling machine-based predictions of tumor aggressiveness and outcomes such as recurrence, metastasis and survival.


In a recent experiment, Drs. Veltri and Madabhushi examined 80 prostate cancers looking at a variety of cellular features. Through a complex computer algorithm termed adaptive active contour scheme (AdACM), they were able to distinguish features of nuclei, gland architecture, and texture and then identify the best features to discriminate Gleason grade patterns. Using these features, AdACM was able to distinguish Gleason score patterns with an accuracy of 86%.[2]

Different computer-generated features to model architecture of prostate cancer in a core of tissue from a prostate biopsy. From Ali etal [2].

This is just some of the exciting research ongoing at the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins that will improve the way we diagnose and treat prostate cancer.


[1] Ali S, Veltri R, Epstein JI, Christudass C, Madabhushi A.Adaptive energy selective active contour with shape priors for nuclear segmentation and gleason grading of prostate cancer.Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2011;14(Pt 1):661-9.

[2] Ali S, Veltri R, Epstein JI, Christhunesa Christudass CS, Madabhushi A. Selective Invocation of Shape Priors for Deformable Segmentation and Morphologic Classification of Prostate Cancer Tissue Microarrays. CMIG, December, 2014.