Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer Risk.

Date:

24-Jun-2002

Source

JAMA

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Article

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer, excluding skin cancer, in men in the United States. It is primarily diagnosed in men over 65, although it may begin much earlier. Some cancers of the prostate are very slow growing, while others behave aggressively. Prostate cancer often metastasizes to other tissue, including the brain, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones. Early detection is critical in order to increase the chances for survival. The cancer can be felt upon digital rectal examination (DRE). These examinations are recommended routinely for all men over the age of 50 and high-risk men should commence at age 40.

There are some factors that can affect the risk of prostate cancer, but today's research is seeking to understand why some men get this cancer while others do not. One study evaluated the relationship between dietary fat and prostate cancer and reported that diets high in total fat are associated with an increased rate of prostate cancer.1 Preliminary investigations are currently studying other possible factors such as genetic predisposition and high levels of testosterone.

A few studies have concluded that vasectomies increase the risk of prostate cancer, although most studies do not support this conclusion. A recent study investigated the prostate cancer risk associated with vasectomies. Between the ages of 40 and 74 years, 923 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer were studied. The control group was randomly selected and included 1224 men. Both groups were interviewed by telephone. The results of this study stated that there was no association between prostate cancer risk and vasectomy, not a relation between the risk and time since the vasectomy. The authors of this study concluded that even after 25 years or more since vasectomy, there was no association of an increased risk of prostate cancer.2

1. Hursting SD, et al. Types of dietary fat and the incidence of cancer at 5 sites. Prev Med. 1990;19:242-253.
2. Cox B, et al. Vasectomy and Risk of Prostate Cancer. JAMA. Jun 2002;287:3110-15.