Vasectomy and Cancer Risk

Some studies have raised questions about a possible relationship between vasectomy (an operation to cut or tie off the two tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles) and the risk of developing cancer, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Such a relationship, if proven, would be of importance because about 1 in 6 men over age 35 in the United States has had a vasectomy.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, after lung cancer. In March 1993, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) convened a conference, cosponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, to clarify the available evidence on the relationship between vasectomy and prostate cancer. Scientists reviewed and carefully weighed all of the data available at that time, including results from published and unpublished studies.

They determined that the results of research on the association between vasectomy and prostate cancer were not consistent. In addition, the scientists could not find any convincing biological explanation for a link between vasectomy and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Based on these findings, the expert panel concluded that even if having a vasectomy can increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer, the increase in risk is relatively small.

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