I had to have a cancerous tumour removed from my penis – now I might only have a year to live


AFTER experiencing pain down below, Gavin Brooks booked in to see his GP.

On his first visit in 2021, the 45-year-old was told he was just suffering with a genital wart.

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Gavin Brooks started to experience pain down below in 2021 so went to see his GPCredit: SWNS
He said he was seen several times by medics who dismissed his symptoms as a a genital wart

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He said he was seen several times by medics who dismissed his symptoms as a a genital wartCredit: SWNS
The dad was diagnosed with penile cancer and has been having treatment

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The dad was diagnosed with penile cancer and has been having treatmentCredit: SWNS

The dad-of-two was struggling with a tight ring of skin around his foreskin and a lesion on top of his penis.

In total, the army warrant office was seen by three GPs, with his condition being dismissed as a wart and thrush.

Gavin, from Crewe, Cheshire, wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis and referred himself to a sexual health clinic.

The team there passed him on to dermatologist who took a biopsy which revealed he had penile cancer.

Now, Gavin has been told he may only have a year to live and says he’s been left with a ‘Frankenweiner’ after the blunder left his manhood mutilated by surgeons.

Gavin said that he knew his symptoms were unusual, which is why he headed straight for the GP.

He said: “The best way I can describe it like a ring of tissue or hard skin within the foreskin.

“When I’d retract the foreskin, I would have to pull it over the head of the penis.

“The skin that connects the foreskin to the penis broke and would bleed and cause pain when I would go for a wee, I knew this wasn’t normal and that I had to get it checked out.

“After three weeks, I went to the army doctors and I suggested it could be Lichen sclerosus.

“The army doctors thought it was a wart but I didn’t know how I’d got one as I’d been married for 20 years and only had one sexual partner in that time, so I didn’t think they were right.”

Four weeks later, his symptoms hadn’t improved so he went back to the GP, who still said it was a wart.

I’ve nicknamed it the ‘Frankenweiner’. When I woke up in hospital I was so scared at how much of my penis looked

Gavin Brooks

He then saw another GP who said he had thrush and gave him some cream.

But after having an appointment with a dermatologist, he was diagnosed with penile cancer.

Around 700 people are diagnosed with penile cancer each year in the UK, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

In the US, the American Cancer Society states there are around 2,070 new cases each year.

Gavin was being sent for an operation in January this year where he had part of his penis removed.

He added: “They lifted my penis up and cut it in half and took a skin graft from my leg to make a penis head, but it is flat with a hole in.

The 10 signs of penile cancer you need to know

The NHS states that most cancers of the penis affect the skin covering the penis (foreskin), or the head or tip (glans) of the penis.

Guidance states the most common symptoms are:

  1. a growth or sore that does not heal within 4 weeks
  2. a rash
  3. bleeding from the penis or under the foreskin
  4. a smelly discharge
  5. thickening of the skin of the penis or foreskin that makes it difficult to pull back the foreskin (phimosis)
  6. a change in the colour of the skin of your penis or foreskin

Other signs include:

  1. a lump in the groin
  2. feeling tired
  3. stomach pain
  4. losing weight without trying

You should see your GP if you’re suffering these symptoms and if there are any changes to how your penis looks.

You should also book an appointment if you are bleeding or have discharge from your penis and if you’ve had treatment for the above symptoms and it’s not worked.

In the event of an emergency, always call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department.

“I’ve nicknamed it the ‘Frankenweiner’. When I woke up in hospital I was so scared at how much of my penis looked to have been removed as it had a dressing on it and a catheter fitted you couldn’t make out the full extent until all of that was removed.”

He then needed further surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy in June.

He is now seeking other treatments that are not offered on the NHS, including Immunotherapy, Proton Beam therapy and Dendritic cell treatment, which are widely used in Germany, Gibraltar and Japan in the advanced cancer stages.

In order to help pay for this, he has set up a GoFundMe page, with a target of reaching £60,000.

He added: “I’ve spent 24 years in the army and a great amount of that time as a fitness training instructor and I use exercise to get rid of stress, now I have to be sat in a wheelchair to watch my little boy play football.

“I can’t walk long distances and I now use a wheelchair more than I walk.”

Following his ordeal, he is urging men to check their penises more regularly for symptoms and has launched an Instagram page called Screaming Cockerel to raise awareness of the disease which has robbed him of his health and mobility.

Half of penis cancers are diagnosed late and once the cancer spreads, the chances of saving the organ become much lower. Tragically, a fifth of patients die of the disease.

Signs of the cancer will typically first start at the top of the penis as either raised patches or white raised spots.

At this stage surgery can be carried out to remove the cancerous tissue, leaving the penis mainly intact. But the longer the disease left the more invasive the surgery becomes.

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He added: “If I had been diagnosed earlier, I may have only ended up requiring a circumcision that could have prevented the rest of the operations and chemotherapy.

“That’s why I need to raise as much awareness for this rare and unknown cancer, so more time and research can be spent into the treatment and diagnosis of this deadly disease before it’s too late.”





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