Circumcision lowers prevalence of precancerous lesions

August 11, 2011

A recent international study shows that among Kenyan men, circumcision is associated with a lower prevalence of human papillomavirus-associated precancerous lesions of the penis.

A recent international study shows that among Kenyan men, circumcision is associated with a lower prevalence of human papillomavirus-associated precancerous lesions of the penis.

"The percentage of men with HPV-associated precancerous penile lesions was substantially higher among those who were not circumcised-26%-compared to those who were circumcised-0.7%," said senior author Jennifer Smith, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"Interventions that reduce HPV-associated penile lesions could be important to both men and women because such lesions may increase HPV transmission from men to their sexual partners. Circumcision may also provide a useful intervention to prevent HPV-associated penile lesions and ultimately invasive cervical cancers in less developed countries, since prophylactic HPV vaccines may not be readily available to men."

The study, published online in the International Journal of Cancer (Aug. 2, 2011), was part of a larger trial undertaken to determine the effectiveness of male circumcision in reducing HIV incidence conducted by Robert Bailey, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the UNC-led study, 275 men participated: 151 who were circumcised and 124 who were not. The protocol included a visual inspection of the penis to identify lesions and photographs that were read independently by two observers as well as a sample of penile exfoliated cells that were tested for HPV infection.