Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer: Is There a Link?

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Researchers attempted to determine an association between vasectomy and likelihood of developing prostate cancer of any grade.
Researchers attempted to determine an association between vasectomy and likelihood of developing prostate cancer of any grade.

Vasectomy is not associated with overall risk of prostate cancer or high-grade prostate cancer, though there may be a link between the procedure and low-intermediate–grade prostate cancer, according to an article published the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Previous research yielded mixed results about whether undergoing vasectomy increases one's chances of developing prostate cancer. For this study, researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) to determine whether there is a link between vasectomy and overall incidence of prostate cancer, tumor stage and grade, and prostate cancer–related death.

Of 84,753 men included in this study, 12,712 (15%) had undergone vasectomy and 72,041 had not. The mean age at recruitment was 53 years; median follow-up was 15.4 years. Men who had undergone vasectomy were more likely to have a higher education level and were less physically active.

There were 4377 cases of prostate cancer in both groups. After stratification for characteristics including body mass index, smoking status, rate of alcohol consumption, physical activity, and dairy-derived protein, no significant associations were found between vasectomy and overall rate of prostate cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and prostate cancer–related death.

An association between low-intermediate grade disease and vasectomy was found, with a hazard ratio of 1.14 (95% CI; 1.01-1.29). This result may, according to the authors, be a consequence of men with vasectomy being more likely to have a regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.

RELATED: Prostate Cancer: In Search of Predictive Biomarkers for Immunotherapy

The authors concluded that no strong association between vasectomy and prostate cancer can, based on these data, be drawn.

Reference

  1. Smith Byrne K, Castaño JM, Chirlaque MD, et al. Vasectomy and prostate cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J Clin Oncol. 2017 Mar 6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.70.0062 [Epub ahead of print]

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