Penile intraepithelial neoplasia, penile cancer precursors and human papillomavirus prevalence in symptomatic preputium: a cross-sectional study of 351 circumcised men in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of pathological disease and spectrum of human papillomavirus (HPV) types among symptomatic foreskin tissue. Patients and Methods: Consecutively excised symptomatic foreskins from 351 men were sent for histopathological evaluation. During the surgical procedure, a fresh biopsy was taken for HPV analysis by modified general primer polymerase chain reaction. A medical questionnaire regarding medication, smoking habits, number of lifetime sexual partners, former diseases and surgery performed on penis was completed by all participants. Results: The most common clinical diagnosis and cause for circumcision was phimosis, seen in 85.2%. Histopathologically inflammatory dermatological conditions were present in 87% of the men. The most common histopathological diagnosis was lichen sclerosus (LS) observed among 58.7%. Notably, penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PeIN) was present in 2% without former clinical suspicion. Overall, HPV was detected in 17.1% of the men and 28 different HPV types were found. High-risk (HR) HPV types were identified in 9.1% and HPV16 was present in 2.3%. Current smoking increased the risk of HPV (crude odds ratio [OR] 2.8, confidence interval [CI] 1.4–5.6; P = 0.005). Having >15 lifetime sexual partners increased the risk of HPV (crude OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.4–5.1; P = 0.003) and when adjusted for current smoking the OR was substantially increased (OR 6.0, 95% CI CI 2.2–16.8; P < 0001). Conclusions: Histopathological evaluation of circumcised symptomatic foreskin revealed PeIN in 2% of the men without any clinical suspicion of malignancy and that treatable dermatological conditions were present in 87%, LS being the most common. HR-HPV types were present in 9%. Due to risk of malignant development both in PeIN and in inflammatory skin diseases we recommend sending all excised foreskins from patients with symptoms for histopathological evaluation as guidance for further clinical management.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Helsingborg Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • #PenileCancer, #uroonc, circumcision, histopathology, human papillomavirus, lichen sclerosus, penile intraepithelial neoplasia, preputium
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-434
JournalBJU International
Issue number4
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch