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October 1979


Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics New England Medical Center Hospital 20 Ash St Boston, MA 02111

Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(10):1079-1080. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130100103024

In Reply.—I cannot fault the figures offered by Dr Kochen and Mr McCurdy. From data supplied by physicians' reports, there are many more deaths from cancer of the penis than from circumcision. However, they fail to recognize the weaknesses of physician reporting. A number of deaths from circumcision are signed out as deaths due to sepsis. The writers should have stopped at this point and would have been well ahead. Instead, they fell into the trap of discussing other complications of routine circumcision, together with the claim that routine circumcisions are warranted because they will prevent carcinoma of the penis. My reply to these two points is as follows:

(1) The writers admit that "several smaller studies of circumcisions do report higher nonfatal complication rates, up to 68%. However, it has been pointed out that complications in almost every case have been due to poor technique or to circumcisions

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