Circumcision The Medical Pros and Cons (cont.)

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What is the correlation between sexually transmitted diseases and cancer of the cervix?

There is a strong connection between sexually transmitted diseases and cancer of the cervix. Human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 (as well as other less common HPV types) are causes of precancerous changes in the cervix and cervical cancer.

The strongest predisposing factors in cervical cancer are a history of intercourse at an early age and multiple sexual partners. An HPV vaccine is now available and recommended for all girls and boys, and when given before the first sexual encounter, it has been shown to be protective against the most common HPV types associated with malignancy. The vaccine presumably prevents cervical cancer associated with these specific infections but is unable to prevent cancers arising from infections with less common HPV types not contained in the vaccine. Therefore, routine screening for precancerous changes in the cervix is still recommended.

What might this relationship between lack of circumcision and cervical cancer mean?

Circumcision may partially protect the mate from cancer of the cervix by removing the foreskin which harbors sexually transmitted viruses (HPVs) that promote this common form of female cancer.

What is the relationship between circumcision and cancer of the penis?

The predicted lifetime risk of cancer of the penis in an uncircumcised man is one in 600 in the U.S. Cancer of the penis carries a mortality rate as high as 25%. This cancer occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men. In five major research studies, no man who had been circumcised as a newborn developed cancer of the penis. Human papillomavirus types 16 and 18, which are sexually transmitted, are involved in cancer of the penis. That is why routine vaccination against HPV is recommended for both boys and girls.

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics

REFERENCES:

Morris, B.J., et al. "A 'snip' in time: what is the best age to circumcise?" BMC Pediatrics 12 (2012): 20. <http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/12/20>.

Tobian, A.R., et al. "Male Circumcision for the Prevention of Acquisition and Transmission of sexually transmitted infections: The case for Neonatal Circumcision." Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 164.1 (2010): 78-84.

Wang, M.L., et al. "Updated parental viewpoints on male neonatal circumcision in the U.S." Clinical Pediatrics 49.2 Feb. 2010: 130-136.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/8/2014