Saturday, July 7, 2012

Does circumcision prevent penile cancer?


As representatives of the American Cancer Society, we would like to
discourage the American Academy of Pediatrics from promoting routine
circumcision as preventative measure for penile or cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society does not consider routine circumcision
to be a valid or effective measure to prevent such cancers.
Portraying routine circumcision as an effective means of prevention
distracts the public from the task of avoiding the behaviors proven to
contribute to penile and cervical cancer: especially cigarette smoking
and unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners.  Perpetuating
the mistaken belief that circumcision prevents cancer is inappropriate.
Okay after posting this I noticed something else. This comes from a letter that is not an official position of the ACS, but the opinion of two former staff members. This was a statement regarding the letter:

A two-year-old letter being circulated on the Net discussing scientific
evidence regarding penile cancer and its relationship to circumcision
is personal correspondence reflecting the observations of two former
ACS physician staff members. The American Cancer Society does not
have a formal guideline statement on circumcision.

Penile cancer is extremely rare in the United States and accounts
for less than one half a percent of cancers diagnosed among men
and less than one tenth of a percent of cancer deaths among men.

Circumcision is the removal of a part or all of the male foreskin
either at birth or later on. This practice has been suggested as
giving some protection against cancer of the penis by contributing
to improved hygiene.

However, the penile cancer risk is low in some uncircumcised
populations, and the practice of circumcision is strongly associated
with socio-ethnic factors, which in turn are associated with lessened
risk. The consensus among studies that have taken these other
factors into account is circumcision is not of value in preventing
cancer of the penis.

Proven penile cancer risk factors include having unprotected sexual
relations with multiple partners (increasing the likelihood of
human papillomavirus infection), and cigarette smoking.


The American Cancer Society actually states this on their website:

In the past, circumcision has been suggested as a way to prevent penile cancer. This was based on studies that reported much lower penile cancer rates among circumcised men than among uncircumcised men. But in many of those studies, the protective effect of circumcision was no longer seen after factors like smegma and phimosis were taken into account.
Most public health researchers believe that the risk of penile cancer is low among uncircumcised men without known risk factors living in the United States. Men who wish to lower their risk of penile cancer can do so by avoiding HPV infection and not smoking. Those who aren't circumcised can also lower their risk of penile cancer by practicing good hygiene. Most experts agree that circumcision should not be recommended solely as a way to prevent penile cancer.

And in another article they state that:
In weighing the risks and benefits of circumcision, doctors consider the fact that penile cancer is very uncommon in the United States, even among uncircumcised men. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the Canadian Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine circumcision of newborns. In the end, decisions about circumcision are highly personal and depend more on social and religious factors than on medical evidence.

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