In a new study, men who underwent vasectomy did not have an increased risk of prostate cancer, nor were they more likely to die from prostate cancer than men who did not receive this procedure. According to the researchers, this is the largest prospective study of vasectomy and fatal prostate cancer to date. They concluded that the data provide some reassurance to men who have had a vasectomy or are considering the procedure. The findings were published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1
Researchers analyzed the association between vasectomy and death from prostate cancer among more than 363,000 men aged 40 and older in the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II), including over 42,000 who were determined to have undergone vasectomy. About 7,400 of the men in the study died of prostate cancer over a 30-year period. In addition, a subgroup of approximately 66,000 men from CPS-II were tracked for new diagnoses of prostate cancer, and over 9,100 of these men were diagnosed with the disease during the study period.
Analyses were adjusted for factors including age, race, education level, body mass index, and smoking status. No link was found between vasectomy and either risk of prostate cancer overall or risk of fatal prostate cancer. The study did report a slight increase in risk of nonaggressive prostate cancer during the past 5 years of the study period, although the authors noted this may have been a chance finding.
By Sumanta Pal, MD,
ASCO Expert in Prostate Cancer
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. ■
A previous study on the association between vasectomy and prostate cancer found that vasectomy was associated with about a 10% higher overall risk of prostate cancer and about a 20% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer. Lead author of the new publication, Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, and colleagues noted that the previous study included just over 800 prostate cancer deaths, whereas the new study included more than 7,000 and that differing results could have been a result of chance.
“While a previous study suggested an association, our results show no connection between vasectomies and overall risk of prostate cancer, or of dying from prostate cancer, and should provide some reassurance to men considering vasectomy,” said Dr. Jacobs, a cancer epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society. “Men concerned about developing a fatal prostate cancer should focus on maintaining a healthy weight and, if they smoke, quitting smoking. Both obesity and smoking have consistently been linked with a higher risk of fatal prostate cancer as well as the risk of many other diseases.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, other than nonmelanoma skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime. It is also the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in men, with more than 26,000 men expected to die from prostate cancer this year. ■
Disclosure: The American Cancer Society funded the creation and maintenance of the Cancer Prevention Study II cohort. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit jco.ascopubs.org.