Doctors blame the number of Italian men wanting penis enlargement on 'changing-room syndrome' (Reuters)
More fuel would likely be added again to the heated debate on whether to cut or not the foreskin of male infants. The trigger this time is a study that links the rise in number of sexually transmitted infection and drop in rates of childhood circumcision with an increase in rate of cancer of the penis.
The study covered 31 years, from 1979 to 2009, on incidence and mortality trends in England and survival trends of 40 years, from 1971 to 2010. It was published in the Cancer Causes Control journal.
The study had 9,690 men diagnosed with penile cancer during the 30-year period. It found incidence rate went up by 21 per cent, 1.10 to 1.33 per 100,000 population, while mortality rates went down 20 per cent after 1994 from 0.39 to 0.31 per 100,000.
For the period 1971-2010, analysis of 11,478 men diagnosed with penile cancer saw an improvement in five-year survival to 70.2 from 61.4 per cent, while for those diagnosed from 2006 to 2010, survival rate reached 77 per cent for men below 60 years old and 53 per cent for men between 80 and 99 years old.
The study concluded that the 21 per cent rise in cancer of the penis incidence in England since the 1970s is attributed to changes in sexual practice that opened to more exposure to sexually transmitted viruses and plummeting rates of childhood circumcision.
According to Cancer Research UK, penile cancer is more common among uncircumcised men because they find it more difficult to pull back the foreskin enough to thoroughly clean underneath, which results in poor hygiene.
Wrong diagnosis is another culprit. The Daily Mail cited the case of Briton Nigel Smith who was misdiagnosed by a sexual health clinic of suffering from genital wart which would disappear over time. Left untreated, he was diagnosed in 2011 at age 58 with stage 3 of penile cancer and had to undergo surgery to have part of his male anatomy removed.
Mr Smith is considering reconstructive surgery because each time he has to urinate is a reminder of what is missing which has also caused an end to the sexual side of his marriage at age 60.
Other men such as this one, had a similar story.
"I'm 60 but I'm a young 60! It shouldn't be the end yet. The psychological impact of it all is massive. It's more traumatic than anyone who hasn't been through this can know," Mr Smith said.
However, narrative accounts and scientific studies may not be sufficient to convince anti-circumcision groups of the value of this medical procedure, contributing to the ongoing, prolonged debate whether to cut or not.