Trends in pediatric circumcision in Belgium and the Brussels University Hospital from

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Prevention of penile cancer

Penile cancer is a relatively rare disease in Western countries. In the United States of America the annual incidence is only 0.58 per 100 000 males.17 However, it is a more common condition in developing countries.18

The risk of penile cancer is higher in uncircumcised males than in males who are circumcised in childhood. Phimosis, balanitis, penile lichen sclerosis*, smegma and HPV infection are some of the predisposing factors to penile cancer. These conditions are more common in uncircumcised males (cf. infra “Potential benefits of male circumcision - Prevention of penile problems including phimosis”). In contrast, there is some evidence that the risk of invasive penile cancer is higher in males that are circumcised in adulthood than in uncircumcised males. This can be explained by the fact that the indications to circumcise in adulthood are also some of the predisposing factors to penile cancer (phimosis, balanitis and lichen sclerosis).19,20

There is strong evidence that circumcision offers a risk reduction for penile cancer, but this condition is very rare in Western countries (and is likely to decrease, as there is an increasing rate of HPV vaccination of women). Routine circumcision for the protection against penile cancer is therefore not recommended.8

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