In Kenyan men, circumcision is associated with a lower prevalence of human papillomavirus-associated precancerous lesions of the penis, a University of North Carolina-led international study has shown.
Human papillomavirus – HPV – is a sexually transmitted virus that plays an important role in genital cancers in men and women, including cancers of the penis and cervix.
“Our data are the first to show that male circumcision may reduce HPV-associated penile precancerous lesions. This represents an additional public health benefit of male circumcision,” said Jennifer Smith, senior author.
“The percentage of men with HPV-associated precancerous penile lesions was substantially higher among those who were not circumcised – 26 percent- compared to those who were circumcised – .7 percent,” explained Smith, a associate professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“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, and current HPV vaccines do not include protection against all high-risk HPV types,” added Smith.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Cancer.