Findings of a large
study published in the BJU International indicated that circumcision can have a
protective effect of up to 60 percent against the development of prostate
cancer especially in those men who are circumcised after the age of 35 years.
The lead researcher of
the study Dr. Andrea Spence and her colleagues at the University of Quebec,
Canada, however, point out that the circumcision
was found to be protective only among black men, a group that has the highest
rate of the disease. Circumcision could protect other study groups too but not
significantly except in men circumcised at age 36 years and older. They did not
know the reason why.
The surgical removal of
, the fold of skin that
covers the head of the penis, is called circumcision. Circumcision is widely
practiced for religious or traditional reasons or to treat problems of
It is generally done in
infants one to two weeks after birth or before the boy reaches the adolescent
stage. The procedure is performed on adults mainly to treat diseases related to
In infant circumcision,
the baby is placed on his back and his arms and legs are strapped so that he
cannot move. Local anesthesia
is applied on the penis. The foreskin is first separated from the glans (head
of the penis) and then the foreskin is removed / cut. Specialized devices such
as Gomco clamp, Mogen clamp or Plastibell clamp are used for the procedure.
In adults, the main
technique used for circumcision is the Dorsal Slit-Sleeve Technique, though it
has successfully been performed in infants as well. The layers of foreskin is
first crushed and then the inner and outer layers of the foreskin is slit
dorsally till the corona (base of the head of the penis). In the next step the
layers are cut off starting with the outer layer.
Circumcision Benefits and Risks
As with any surgical
procedure, circumcision too has its benefits and risks.
Cleaning the penis is easier.
Risk for urinary tract
is reduced in children.
possibility of scar tissue formation in the foreskin is reduced. Scar tissue
causes inability to retract the foreskin or causes swelling in the retracted
Prevents inflammation of the foreskin and the glans.
Prevents the risk for HIV
Reduces risk of sexually transmitted
such as syphilis
Reduces the risk for penile cancer and prostate
in men, and cervix
in female partners.
Risks of circumcision:
Formation of blood clot under the skin (hematoma)
Infection at the site of surgery
Injury to penis
Adverse reaction to anesthesia
In view of the benefits
of the circumcision to reduce risk of diseases, number of researches have been
conducted using various parameters. Studies are especially done to find the
association between circumcision and prevention of HIV and prostate cancer.
circumcision at birth to prevent the risk of sexually transmitted infections
and penile cancer. A few studies have linked prostate cancer with sexually
transmitted infections, though none could prove its cause and effect.
Dr. Matthew Hobbs,
Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK does not consider the
evidence sufficient enough for men to begin consider circumcision to prevent
'Although this study
appears to show that circumcision after the age of 35 could reduce your risk of
prostate cancer, there was no statistically significant association between prostate
cancer and circumcision for men circumcised at all other ages. No reason was
collected for circumcision, so we can't say if the association is with
circumcision later in life or with whatever causes men to have circumcisions
after that age. It is also highly likely that diet, lifestyle, socioeconomic
status and healthcare behaviors may have played a role in skewing these
results,' says Dr. Matthew Hobbs.
'The most important
thing is that all men are aware of their risk of prostate cancer and talk to
their GP about it, particularly men who are over the age of 50, of African or
African Caribbean ethnic origin, or those that have a family history of the
disease,' he continued.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer in its
early stages usually does not cause any symptoms. As the disease progresses,
you may get symptoms such as:
Problems passing urine; slow or weak urinary stream
especially at night
Blood in urine
Problems with erection
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Weakness or numbness in the legs
chest pain, or pain in the hips
Circumcision or no
circumcision, as Dr. Matthew Hobbs pointed out, it is important that all men
are aware of the prostate cancer risk and take necessary steps to deal with it.