Medical Definition of Circumcision

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Circumcision: Surgery that removes the foreskin (the loose tissue) covering the glans of the penis. Circumcision may be performed for religious, cultural reasons or health reasons. Newborn circumcision diminishes the risk for cancer of the penis and lowers the risk for cancer of the cervix in sexual partners. It also decreases the risk of urinary tract infections and lowers the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV.

The Latin "circum-" means around (or about). Circumcision is, literally, a cutting around. Circumcision dates back to prehistoric times. It is one of the oldest surgical operations known to have been performed by ancient people.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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