A man needed part of his penis amputated after he ‘strangulated’ it with a rubber band to try and stop a cancerous tumour from growing.

The 65-year-old patient went to hospital because of pain in his genitals and doctors discovered he had been trying to treat a skin cancer with a piece of elastic.

By the time they removed the rubber band in surgery it had cut into the skin and damaged the tissue.

They called the incident ‘a rare emergency’ and said men more often got things stuck on their penises in pranks or sexual misadventures.

One expert told MailOnline using the band was ‘certainly not sensible’ and that men often try to cure health problems themselves when their penis is concerned, but they should overcome the embarrassment and see a doctor as soon as possible. 

A 65-year-old patient seen by doctors in Tokyo had wrapped an elastic band around the base of his penis in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of skin cancer tumours (stock image)

A 65-year-old patient seen by doctors in Tokyo had wrapped an elastic band around the base of his penis in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of skin cancer tumours (stock image)

A 65-year-old patient seen by doctors in Tokyo had wrapped an elastic band around the base of his penis in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of skin cancer tumours (stock image)

Doctors at Koto Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, treated the man, who was also having dialysis treatment because of kidney failure.

He had been suffering pain in his penis for two months, although it is unclear for how long the elastic band was on there.

When they examined him, the doctors found what they described as ‘a penile tumor in a shape of cauliflower… around the glans [head of the] penis’.

Graphic photographs published with the case report showed well-developed, rough-looking tumours growing out of the man’s penis.

These were diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer which accounts for around a fifth of all cancer cases in the UK and 90 per cent of skin cancers.

In what appears to have been a desperate attempt to stop the cancer spreading, the Japanese patient had strapped the elastic band around the width of his penis at least twice.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the upper layers of the skin.

It often looks like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central dip or warts, all of which may crust or bleed.

They can become disfiguring or life-threatening if allowed to grow.

More than one million people are diagnosed with SCC every year in the US. Its UK prevalence is unclear.

SCC is mainly caused by overexposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds.

People are more likely to suffer if they:

  • Have fair hair or skin
  • Work outdoors
  • Are over 50
  • Have a personal or family history of the disease
  • Have a suppressed immune system, such as chemotherapy or AIDS patients

Although SCC can occur anywhere on the body, it is most common on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face and hands.

SCCs spotted at an early stage and removed promptly are mostly curable and cause minimal damage.

Treatment typically includes surgery to remove the growth, as well as radiotherapy and topical drugs.

People can reduce their risk of developing the disorder by:

  • Wearing a high-factor sun cream that is reapplied at least every two hours, or more if swimming
  • Covering up with clothing
  • Seeking shade between 10am and 4pm
  • Not using UV tanning beds

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation

But Richard Viney, a urological surgeon working for the NHS in Birmingham, told MailOnline: ‘I’m not clear about the patient’s motive for applying the band or the surgical team for leaving the band in place prior to surgery. It would certainly not be an effective or sensible approach to treating the cancer.’  

He said that even if the process worked by killing off the tissue containing the cancer, the penis would still likely become infected and need surgery to repair.  

The Japanese medics, led by Dr Takahiro Yoshida, wrote: ‘Although the penile strangulation by a rubber band was found at the root of the penis, the [swelling] in the glans penis and around the strangulation were slight, and the blood flow… was not bad.’

They warned that strangulating the penis cuts off vital blood circulation and can cause tissue in the penis to die and need cutting away.

It may also cause swelling or blood poisoning, even if it’s only done temporarily.

The man’s cancer hadn’t spread and he had no serious complications from the surgery, so was able to go home from the hospital after two weeks. 

Mr Viney added: ‘Where the penis is concerned men can be very reticent in discussing problems with their doctor. 

‘They will often try a variety of homeopathic treatments before coming forward and strangulation of the penis in this way is one of those techniques. 

‘Constriction of the penis in this way is ill advised. If you have a problem with your genitals, embarrassment is understandable but you should always get these things checked out as quickly as possible. Delay will only allow things to get worse.’ 

Although blood poisoning or gangrene hadn’t happened in this patient’s case, surgeons still had to cut off part of his penis to remove the cancer and damaged tissue – a surgery called partial penectomy. 

In their paper the doctors revealed other medical reports found metallic rings and tubes, plastic bottles, strings and threads had all also been used to strangulate men’s penises.

Using soft products – most commonly rubber bands – was more often associated with attempts to relieve medical conditions, whereas solid ones – usually metal rings – were more likely to be used in pranks or sexual experiments.

The paper was published in the journal Urology Case Reports.

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