(HealthDay News) — Vasectomy is associated with an increased incidence of prostate cancer overall during extended follow-up, with an elevated risk seen for high-grade and lethal cancer, according to a study published online July 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mohummad Minhaj Siddiqui, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between vasectomy and prostate cancer during an extended follow-up study. Data were analyzed from 49,405 U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, aged 40–75 years at baseline in 1986. Of these, 6,023 patients were diagnosed with prostate cancer during follow-up, including 811 lethal cases. Twenty-five percent of the men had vasectomies, and the correlations with total, advanced, high-grade, and lethal disease were examined.

The researchers observed a small increased risk of prostate cancer overall with vasectomy (relative risk, 1.10). The risk was further elevated for high-grade (Gleason score 8–10) and lethal disease (death or distant metastasis; relative risks, 1.22 and 1.19, respectively). The correlation with lethal cancer was stronger among a subcohort of men receiving regular prostate-specific antigen screening (relative risk, 1.56). There was no correlation for vasectomy with low-grade or localized disease. Differences in sex hormone levels, sexually transmitted infections, or cancer treatment did not drive the associations.

“Our data support the hypothesis that vasectomy is associated with a modest increased incidence of lethal prostate cancer,” the authors write.

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