We summarize the recent developments in the molecular landscape of penile squamous cell carcinoma (PSCC).

Recent genomic studies have demonstrated a molecular convergence of PSCC with other squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) from different organ sites. Similarly, human papillomavirus (HPV)-related PSCCs appear to have epigenetic and genomic similarities with other HPV-related cancers. This could have implications on future HPV-related cancer trial design. Growing efforts to characterize recurrent gene alterations in PSCC have expanded our understanding over the past years, showing a predominance of tumor suppressor gene alterations such as TP53 and NOTCH1. In addition, these studies have demonstrated that at least 30% of PSCC cases have targetable gene alterations. Further, the similar tumor mutational burden with other SCCs and the relatively high rates of programmed death-1 (PD-1) positive expression in PSCC constitute the rationale for investigation of PD-1 inhibition in ongoing clinical trials. Multiple studies have identified potential epigenetic and RNA signatures predictive of metastasis or survival, but these still require validation in larger cohorts.

PSCC appears to be genomicaly similar to other SCCs and HPV-related cancers. This provides the rationale and opportunity to include a rare tumor like PSCC in future ‘basket type’ trials using novel agents targeting multiple SCCs that may exhibit similar biology.

Current opinion in urology. 2019 Jul [Epub]

Jad Chahoud, Curtis R Pickering, Curtis A Pettaway

Department of Cancer Medicine., Department of Head and Neck Surgery., Department of Urology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.