Vasectomy and Possible Prostate Cancer Connection

A prospective study was conducted for 24 years in a group of about 49,400 men. The correlation between vasectomy and risk of developing prostate cancer mainly concerns the most serious forms of the disease.

The procedure, which involves cutting the vas deferens, a tiny muscular tube that carries sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct, is a very common practice in many Anglo-Saxon countries.For instance, in the United Kingdom and the United States, about 20% and 13% of men respectively underwent vasectomy in 2011 according to recent statistics by the World Health organization (WHO). Any connection of the procedure and malignant tumor cannot be neglected.

Previous studies have explored the association between sterilization by vasectomy and the occurrence of prostate cancer. But the inconsistency of the results made it difficult to reach reliable conclusions. But a new study has shed more light.

Initiated in 1986 by the team of Dr. Lorelei Mucci (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston), this observational study included 49,400 men aged 40-75 years. In 2000, 25% of them had voluntarilyundergone a vasectomy for contraceptive purposes. At the end of follow-up in 2010, prostate cancerwas diagnosed in 6,023 men (about 12.2% of the men); of these, 732 had a high grade cancer. A total of 811 cases were fatal.

Of all cases of prostate cancer, men who had a vasectomy have a 10% risk in addition to developing cancer, compared to those who did not have a permanent contraception.

Vasectomy was specifically associated with an increased cancer risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancer, with an increase of 20% and 19% respectively. The risk of high grade cancer also rose by22% among those men.

However, no significant relationship was observed between vasectomy and the risk of low-grade or localized malignancy in the prostate gland.

Better understand themechanisms behind cancer      

According to Dr. David Miler of Urology at the University of Michigan department, “it is necessary to better understand the potential underlying mechanisms contributing to increased risk of prostate cancer after a vasectomy before considering setting some cautions.” He believes that the results of the study, as it is often the case for observational studies, can be contradictory. “If the study shows a link between prostate cancer and vasectomy, it does not depend on the patient’s age or time sincevasectomy.”

According to the urologist, Dr. David Miler, given the contradictions posed by the study, it cannot be used to discourage men considering a vasectomy, particularly because of the lack of clearly identifiedcauses. “The results call for further research to clarify the association between prostate cancer andvasectomy.”

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