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Can Med Assoc J. 1981 Nov 1;125(9):967-76, 992.

Benefits and risks of circumcision.


Circumcisions are performed either prophylactically in the neonatal period or therapeutically at a later age. About 10% of males not circumcised at birth will eventually require circumcision. The present neonatal circumcision rate is about 80% in the United States and 40% in Canada. The single most important determinant of whether a newborn male will be circumcised is the attitude of the attending physician. The literature was reviewed to determine the proven benefits of circumcision and to compare these with the known risks. Circumcising the newborn facilitates penile hygiene, prevents cancer of the penis and decreases the incidence of genital herpes in later life. Whether it decreases the incidence of cancer of the cervix is still uncertain. More important, neonatal circumcision is associated with much lower morbidity and mortality and with lower costs than therapeutic circumcision. Thus, prophylactic circumcision is recommended for the male population as a whole.

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