“I think that when we consider the bulk of the evidence on this, we can treat this slight lowering of the risk as a signal that there seems to be something going on. However, it is still premature to use these findings to make public health recommendations,” said Dr. Parent. “It may prove that in subpopulations at higher risks, such as black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, circumcision should be considered as an option, but we need more research to confirm this.”
Medical oncologist Tom Beer, MD, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, said that the evidence is not strong enough to routinely advocate for circumcision in order to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. “To advocate that folks undergo surgery to prevent a cancer, I think the evidence would need to be clear and definitive,” Dr. Beer told CancerTherapyAdvisor.com.
“Circumcision is very common in the United States and relatively uncommon in much of Europe, and yet there is not a clear difference in prostate cancer risk between the two. That is not evidence against. There are many differences between the United States and Europe, but it is an observation that would lead one to ask questions. If circumcision had a large and important [effect] on prostate cancer risk, one would think we would see some population-level differences between places where it is routinely practiced and places where it is not.”
Urologist Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, agrees with Dr. Beer. However, he said the findings warrant further research and a lower risk of prostate cancer could be another health benefit that may come with circumcision, especially in subpopulations of men. “The data add to the myriad of established health benefits of circumcision, including lower risks of STI transmission, urinary infections, and penile cancer,” Dr. Eisenberg told CancerTherapyAdvisor.com.
- Spence AR, Rousseau MC, Karakiewicz PI, Parent ME. Circumcision and prostate cancer: a population-based case-control study in Montréal, Canada. BJU Int. 2014 Mar 24. doi: 10.1111/bju.12741. [Epub ahead of print]
- Wright JL, Lin DW, Stanford JL. Circumcision and the risk of prostate cancer. Cancer. 2012;118(18);4437-4443