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Controversial Study Links Vasectomy to Prostate Cancer

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Aug 7, 2014) - A new study published last month in The Journal of Clinical Oncology indicates that there may, in some cases, be a link between vasectomies and an increased risk of contracting the most lethal form of prostate cancer. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilization, providing a permanent form of birth control. During the procedure, the vasa deferentia are severed, tied and sealed to prevent the release of sperm.

The study is a culmination of 24 years of research released by Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers at Harvard analyzed the data on 49,405 U.S. men who ranged in age from 40 to 75 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Of those 12,321 men who had vasectomies -- or 25 percent of study participants -- researchers discovered 6,023 cases of prostate cancer from 1986-2010. Among those cases, 811 were lethal. World-renowned robotic prostate surgeon David B. Samadi, MD, Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, says that this is just another reminder that early detection and regular screenings for prostate cancer are imperative. 

"Typically, men should get screened annually for prostate cancer starting at age 50. This screening includes two exams that should be performed concurrently, the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test and the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)," said Dr. Samadi. "However, men who have one or more risk factors should be screened at an earlier age, 40-45 years old." 

Although the risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age -- most cases occur in men after age 65 -- genetics, ethnicity and the environment can all play a role. Men with a father or brother who has prostate cancer are twice as likely to get the disease. Furthermore, African-Americans, veterans exposed to Agent Orange and obese men are also at increased risk.

While previous studies have surmised a connection between vasectomies and prostate cancer, many experts remain skeptical of any correlation. In fact, some dismiss the notion altogether and believe that men with vasectomies are simply diagnosed more often because they receive more medical attention. Other experts have also attributed the increased prostate cancer risk to immunological changes, abnormal cell growth and/or hormonal imbalances following a vasectomy.

Admittedly, the study's revelation that men with vasectomies are 20 percent more likely to develop lethal prostate cancer is alarming, but many experts feel that a definitive causal relationship is still inconclusive and would not suggest ruling out the procedure. "Every man has to weigh his options, discuss his concerns with his doctor and decide whether a vasectomy is right for him. Early detection of prostate cancer is key to effectively reducing one's risk and treating this silent killer. If men follow the recommended screening guidelines for prostate cancer and see their doctor every year, many can live long, healthy lives," concluded Dr. Samadi.

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* The benefits of robotic surgery cannot be guaranteed as surgery is both patient and procedure specific. Previous surgical results do not guarantee future outcomes.

Jeannette B., Netherlands

Mijn man werd op 17-09-2008 geopereerd met een Da Vinci door dr.Samadi. (PSA 31.8, gleason score 9) Eerst hebben we geprobeerd dit plaats te laten vinden in Europa,maar daar werd geen operatie gedaan met een kapseldoorbraak.

D. McGuire, Suffern, New York

"In full recognition of my panicked state his office made arrangements for my wife and I to meet with him that same day. We knew immediately we found who we were looking for..."

Steve & Cindy, USA

On Jan. 26, 2011 when I had my prostate removed you told me I would soon be able to resume my normal activities. This past Sunday my wife and I completed a half marathon together. What a wonderfull experience we shared, thanks to you I am doing what I was able to do prior to my diagnosis and I am working to continue to improve.

The Wife, USA

The next day we went to see Dr. Samadi. In walked a tall surgeon, with a great grip when he shook hands.  He proceeded to show us what the male body looked like around the prostate, and all of the work that had to be done to make sure that Ken would come out with a fully functional body, minus his prostate.