ACS NEWS TODAY, Atlanta, 1998.

Dispelling Miscommunications

ACS NewsToday -- Statements about circumcision preventing penile
cancer and cervical cancer are cropping up on the Internet. 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.

(File revised 18 November 2006)