Masturbation & Penile Cancer: The Myth, The Fiction & The Dangers Of False Diagnosis

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Penile cancers are a very rare type of cancer that can occur on the skin of the penis or within the penis and contrary to false beliefs , male masturbation (self sexual pleasure) is not a known cause or risk factor identified by medical science. The cause is actually unknown. Read the fictional story of ,Mr. ThankGod the Bank Cashier, below to appreciate the myth as well as dangers of false diagnosis and then refer to the References for more information about penile cancers and masturbation.

ThankGod just returned from work and flopped on his mattress in his one bedroom apartment in shomolu. Apparently there had been no light all day and the room had the stale smell of used clothes and unwashed plates but this didn't bother him one bit. All he could think of was to get to bed as he had a really stressful day dealing with belligerent University students in his Akoka bank branch.   The girls in their revealing attires and rebellious hairdo always treated him with condescension and they never had more than Twenty Thousand Naira in their savings account. This had made him come up with the Hypothesis he proudly called "ThankGod's law of bank balances" which claimed that a student's bank balance was inversely proportional to how flashy they dressed. He however had the problem of never being able to fall asleep easily, so like all other issues he faced in life, he found a hack- "Masturbation". Intense hatred was what he felt for that word, which he believed to be too mechanical, detached and sinful for an act as beautiful as the act of self-satisfaction. He preferred the hippie slang "wanking" as it sounded really cool.  When his pastor in his conservative Pentecostal church would get all pumped up and start shouting, "SINNERS SHALL BURN IN THE LAKE OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE, THE THIEVES, LIARS, FORNICATORS, ADULTERERS AND MASTURBATORS. THEY SHALL ALL PERISH!!", with sweat dripping down his face and soaking up his shiny shirt, he would always shout "YES, YES!!" when the other evils were mentioned and go mute at the sound of  "masturbation".   He rationalised that he didn't masturbate, eww- that was disgusting! He only "wanked" and that helped to prevent him from committing the more heinous religious/moral crime of fornication and adultery. God forbid he ever stooped so low as to commit any of those.
Every evening and sometimes on Saturday mornings and afternoons he wanked away his sorrows and made sure he never ran out of tissue and Jergens body lotion. They were always at the top of his shopping list. The smell of jergens body lotion was to him like the smell of fried plantain to a foodie. On this particular evening, with his equipment close by, he thought about his day earlier and he settled for Amaka, the buxom, light skinned lady from marketing who only came to the branch when she felt like. No one ever questioned her because she brought in the big guns with their accounts in tow. Today, she had walked into the bank and waved towards him, flashing her pearly white teeth and quickly ascended upstairs. He was star struck and transfixed, his heart pounding with the anxiety of a love Jones and then he made the mistake of turning to receive the expected acknowledgments from the gang; only for him to notice Bisi the cleaner who usually ran Amaka's errands behind him grinning from molar to molar. Amaka had once again disappointed him as the wave was meant for Bisi but now he would get his pound of flesh. He would do unimaginable things to her in his head and bend her in positions only him could imagine. As his palm grasped his member, he felt some slight bumps on it. The smooth feeling was gone and what used to be pleasurable was replaced by a coarse feeling. His heart sank as he cursed under his breath; his village people had finally won and taken his only joy from him. All night  he couldn't sleep as the hours seemed longer than usual. He eventually stayed up all night thinking about what might have caused this. What was wrong with his one and only 'john Thomas'?

It was barely 5am when he sent a text to HR to say he was very sick and would be absent from work. He found himself on the next bus to Yaba and by 6am he was in the waiting room of the Military Hospital. He couldn't believe that doctors could be so tardy; by 6am nobody was at their duty post. After fuming and stamping his feet for a while, he went towards the security post "Sir, when exactly is the doctor coming?", he asked the military policeman stationed there, for the umpteenth time. "Oga I don tell you say na 9am doctor dey resume, wait for am, you hear! If you come here again I go arrest you oh", the guard replied angrily. He sighed and went back to his seat cursing under his breath to join the other early patients.   Three hours later, he was jolted from his sleep by the sound of his name and he ran into the Consulting room shouting "I am here, I have been here since 5am Sir". "Oga (man) let's take your vital observations before the doctor attends to you", the elderly matron shouted back at him. After the seemingly never ending process of having his vitals taking, he rushed into the inner office, where he met a young, slim, dark skinned lady who was wearing what he always liked to call "coke bottle glasses". "This slim Dockay go know book well well, I get luck" he murmured, then proceeded to drag his pants down saying "Doctor I don't have any problem except for my thingy giving me headache". "I don't understand, stop this immediately, I have not asked you to undress" Dr Alero, the National Youth Corps Doctor on duty replied looking confused. "Doctor this ain't no jokes, I've developed an unusual rash on my winky; please help" he begged.  "Okay relax Sir; any itching?, discharge??, swelling on your groin???, injury????, are you sexually active?????, she fired in quick succession to which he vigorously shook his head at every question. "Do you have any idea what this is Doc? What's with the multitude of questions young lady?"

"Hmmm, Mr ThankGod" she said after some minutes of uncomfortable silence and deep thought, "this seems to be a rare form of penile cancer caused by a variety of risk factors, topmost of which is promiscuous sexual activity but since you are not sexually active I'm not quite sure. It has been found that 0.05% of patients with this disease actually admitted to masturbating", she continued. "Do you errm... masturbate?", she whispered, lowering her glasses to look him in the eye. "No oh, God forbid!!! Me masturbate?? Impossible", he denied swiftly. "Well, very good then. We'll have to send you to a private histology laboratory on the island for some tests to confirm the diagnosis" and she hurriedly filled the lab forms. "Do have a nice day Mr ThankGod, Next patient!!", she shouted over the din emanating from the waiting area. 

He managed to leave the hospital composed, all the while, thoughts running through his head. His village people had finally succeeded and had struck him with cancer or maybe God was punishing him for sinning and trying to cover it up. His pastor always said the punishment for sin was death. What punishment could be more fitting than this. Cancer...and cancer of the penis at that. Somehow, he knew he wouldn't be able to survive the stress of struggling for a Danfo (local bus transport), so he requested for an Uber Taxi even though it cost him. He was gonna die very soon so what use was all that money he had been saving for the past three years. Besides, Google said the treatment for this cancer was to cut off  affected parts the penis. Tears began rolling down his eyes as he began to imagine that he would never have sex in his life even if he survived. His travails would provide material for his Pastor's subsequent sermons about masturbation and fornication. Going back to that church was out of it. He had never felt so alone and scared.  "Oga, you dey okay so, anybody die?", the driver asked him while observing through the rear view mirror. "I dey okay!!Oga mind your business!!", he curtly replied in Nigerian pidgin English.

He got down at the laboratory complex and went through the motions of paying. A sample was obtained from his penis after his biodata was confirmed inside the Pathology laboratory. He didn't even hear them  when they said he would receive an email of the results and a call to come collect a copy. As far as he was concerned, he was dead among the living, only biding his time before the expected end would come. The future wasn't so bright anymore. 
He ordered another Uber Taxi straight home and on the way, the driver kept making small talk so he had to be rude and cut him off instantly. When they got on Third Mainland Bridge, the bridge that separated parts of Lagos mainland from the Island over the Lagos Lagoon, he angrily asked the driver to stop, that he would rather board a bus than hear his voice again.  After alighting, he paid the driver who zoomed off immediately after, screaming "poor bastard!" at him. Turning towards the Lagoon, the rays of sunlight reflected by the water bed hit his face and he felt an aura and a powerful energy flow through him. He began to feel a force drawing him close. Suddenly all his troubles vanished and for the first time in 24 hours he felt at peace. 

The phone rang a couple of times before it was answered. "Hello" was all the other person on the line could manage to say before Dr Odeku, the Pathologist rapped happily "Mr ThankGod, we sent you a mail two weeks ago and have been trying to reach you since. Your pathology report shows you have "pearly penile papules"; a benign condition that can be treated with laser at a clinic on the island here as well as in another one in Surulere , which ever one you prefer. It's quite a rare skin condition and we need your permission to write a case report about it. I'm so excited", "hello!!", he continued, then the shock hit. "This is his younger brother; ThankGod is no more. He jumped to his death two weeks ago", a sober, male voice replied and the line went dead.

By: Dr. Wisdom Aziegbe

Aziegbe Wisdom (@wizibord) is a Nigerian Medical Doctor with interests in Cardiology and Psychiatry. He loves writing medical fiction and enjoys watching funny Instagram videos in his free time.


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