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October 1979


Author Affiliations

School of Public Health University of California 19 Earl Warren Hall Berkeley, CA 94720

Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(10):1079. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130100103023

Sir.—We wish to respond to Dr Gellis' marginal comment on circumcision (Journal 132:1168-1169, 1978). In support of his opposition to circumcision, he argues that there are more deaths each year due to complications of circumcision than to cancer of the penis.

Our research has shown the opposite to be true. According to 1973 Vital Statistics of the United States,1 the total number of deaths in the United States in 1973 due to cancer of the penis was 208. Deaths due to circumcision are catalogued according to international classification as E935,0 and E936,02; here, Vital Statistics shows a total of only one male death. Furthermore, these two categories include not only deaths due to circumcision complications, but also those due to complications and misadventures in prophylactic appendectomies and sterilizations, among others.

In addition, our review of the literature over the past 25 years uncovered only two reports of

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