To report results for 49 men with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the penis treated with primary penile interstitial brachytherapy at one of two institutions: the Ottawa Regional Cancer Center, Ottawa, and the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
From September 1989 to September 2003, 49 men (mean age, 58 years; range, 22-93 years) had brachytherapy for penile SCC. Fifty-one percent of tumors were T1, 33% T2, and 8% T3; 4% were in situ and 4% Tx. Grade was well differentiated in 31%, moderate in 45%, and poor in 2%; grade was unspecified for 20%. One tumor was verrucous. All tumors in Toronto had pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy (n = 23), whereas those in Ottawa had either Iridium wire (n = 22) or seeds (n = 4). Four patients had a single plane implant with a plastic tube technique, and all others had a volume implant with predrilled acrylic templates and two or three parallel planes of needles (median, six needles). Mean needle spacing was 13.5 mm (range, 10-18 mm), mean dose rate was 65 cGy/h (range, 33-160 cGy/h), and mean duration was 98.8 h (range, 36-188 h). Dose rates for PDR brachytherapy were 50-61.2 cGy/h, with no correction in total dose, which was 60 Gy in all cases.
Median follow-up was 33.4 months (range, 4-140 months). At 5 years, actuarial overall survival was 78.3% and cause-specific survival 90.0%. Four men died of penile cancer, and 6 died of other causes with no evidence of recurrence. The cumulative incidence rate for never having experienced any type of failure at 5 years was 64.4% and for local failure was 85.3%. All 5 patients with local failure were successfully salvaged by surgery; 2 other men required penectomy for necrosis. The soft tissue necrosis rate was 16% and the urethral stenosis rate 12%. Of 8 men with regional failure, 5 were salvaged by lymph node dissection with or without external radiation. All 4 men with distant failure died of disease. Of 49 men, 42 had an intact and tumor-free penis at last follow-up or death. The actuarial penile preservation rate at 5 years was 86.5%.
Brachytherapy is an effective treatment for T1, T2, and selected T3 SCC of the penis. Close follow-up is mandatory because local failures and many regional failures can be salvaged by surgery.