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Sept 7, 1963


JAMA. 1963;185(10):780. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060100060022

Functioning effectively in the absence of conclusive "pro" or "con" evidence is a prime ingredient in the clinician's role. To most physicians this challenge is particularly attractive; to a few it may prove paralyzing. In any case, every physician must be wary of ignoring, or failing to collect, data which might provide him with conclusive evidence. Such oversight is prone to occur when the data are difficult to collect—or when the issue at hand is seemingly so mundane as hardly to warrant professional attention.

So be it with circumcision! A rite of antiquity, a ritual of primitive civilizations, circumcision today continues to serve symbolic purposes. At the same time, it is purported to accomplish some more concrete objectives: to "relieve" phimosis, to "prevent" infection, to be "prophylaxis" against carcinoma of the penis—and possibly even against carcinoma of the sexual partner's cervix. Yet, it can hardly be said that circumcision commands