Dad issues warning after ‘Frankenstein’s monster penis’ signalled rare cancer

In the beginning, James Garfield noticed a small red pimple on the shaft of his penis.

Over time, the pimple developed into a penny-sized patch of itchy, oozing skin.

James feared he might have picked up a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“I spent time researching ‘how have I caught this off a toilet seat?’ because this isn’t something I’ve picked up the traditional way, I’m committed to my wife,” James ascertained.

The “itchy and weeping” sore turned out to be penile cancer, which was operable.

James underwent surgery at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, in March 2020 – just as the pandemic arrived.

“I had my operation seven days before the NHS shut down for Covid,” James said.

“That was a lucky break, I could have gone six months without seeing anybody.”

James added: “Then we move forward to the back end of last year and I go and see the doctor again about discolouration on my glans.

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“I was feeling really down, really low of energy and I had this pain in my hip and groin area.”

The 48-year-old had a second biopsy in January 2023 that revealed he had penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PeIN).

Undergoing a glansectomy in April 2023, James joked: “When I first looked at it I went, ‘Oh, dear.’ It looked like Frankenstein’s [monster’s] face.”


The Canadian Cancer Society pointed out additional symptoms of the penile cancer to be aware of, such as:

  • Abnormal growths
  • Painful urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Inability to fully pull back the foreskin over the glans.

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Risk factors for the disease include HPV infection, weakened immune system, and smoking.

James added: “Six weeks on it’s healed. My advice to blokes is if you find something that you don’t think is right, get it checked out.

“I was very lucky that the guy that I saw had seen this before [and knew what it was].

“If you’re not happy with what you’ve been told, get it checked out again.”

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