Can a vasectomy increase your risk of prostate cancer?
September 29, 2016 | by Denise Heady
There are many factors that can increase the risk of prostate cancer - largely smoking and obesity - but a new study suggests a vasectomy isn’t one of them.
Published earlier this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study found no connection between men having a vasectomy and developing prostate cancer - challenging a 2014 study that suggested undergoing a vasectomy might increase the risk of prostate cancer or dying from it.
"The current study mitigates concern that a vasectomy could potentially be related to the development of prostate cancer, or death related to this disease," said Sumanta K. Pal, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research and co-director of the Kidney Cancer Program at City of Hope, in a recent interview with HealthDay.
Researchers from the American Cancer Society analyzed data from nearly 264,000 men older than 40 years old, including 42,000 who had a vasectomy — a surgical procedure that cuts the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles, more famously known as “the snip.”
About 7,400 participants died of prostate cancer over the 30-year period the researchers analyzed from the broader ongoing Cancer Prevention Study II.
After reviewing the data, researchers found that there was no difference in prostate cancer development or the risk of fatal prostate cancer between those who did and did not have a vasectomy.
Lead author Eric Jacobs said it is reasonable to expect that some men considering vasectomy might have concerns due to the conflicting studies, but he told CNN that for now he would feel reassured by this finding if considering a vasectomy.
“Vasectomy is a quick, inexpensive, long-term method of birth control. ... If there's no increase in risk, nobody should be discouraged. We wanted to help inform that decision," he said.
Pal agrees with Jacobs, adding: "As the health care system continues to shift and emphasize prevention and overall health and well-being, people have become more focused on lowering their risk of cancer. Men who have had a vasectomy or are considering one can now be assured that the procedure does not increase their risk of dying from prostate cancer.”
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men with nearly 181,000 new cases expected this year. It is also the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men.
While treatments and screening methods for prostate cancer have evolved tremendously over the past two decades, Pal noted that while there currently are no treatments proven to reduce prostate cancer risk, a greater focus on screening can make a positive difference.
"We do think that early detection is associated with improved outcomes," he told HealthDay. "The most recent guidelines suggest a tailored approach to prostate cancer screening, taking into account factors such as family history.”
Learn more about City of Hope's Prostate Cancer Program and research. If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
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