To Snip or Not to Snip: New Concern About Vasectomies

Should men thinking about getting a vasectomy think again?

That is the question being asked this week following the release of a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showing men who underwent vasectomies may be at an increased risk for the most lethal form of prostate cancer. But while that headline is scary, James Hoatling, M.D., a urologist with University of Utah Health Care says the small print tells a different story. “When we examine the numbers, we see that those who have had a vasectomy had 19 cases out of 1000 versus 16 out of 1000,” he says, “While this seems alarming at first, especially since it translates into a 20% increased risk of getting aggressive prostate cancer, we must note that the absolute increase in cases was on 3.”

Hotaling also points out that men who have had vasectomies may be more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, because they are more likely to be screened for it. “Those who regularly use health care are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer as they are screened more often,” he says, “What I take away from this study is that vasectomy is a marker for access to health care.”

The bottom line? “I do not think men should rethink getting a vasectomy,” says Hotaling. Instead, men thinking of having a vasectomy should be sure to get follow up care, and watch for cancer warning signs. “Men who have had vasectomies should undergo PSA screening per the American Urological Association guidelines for all men as this has repeatedly demonstrated to effectively detect curable prostate cancer,” says Hoatling.

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