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Curtin research finds no vasectomy reversal link to prostate cancer

Media release

New Curtin University research that studied almost 10,000 men who had undergone vasectomy reversals across the globe has found no evidence of a link between the procedure and prostate cancer.

The paper, published in The Journal of Urology, studied the population health data of 684,660 men with vasectomies living in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, including 9,754 men who had undergone vasectomy reversals.

Lead author Dr Sean Randall, from the Centre for Data Linkage at Curtin University, said previous evidence on the link between a vasectomy and prostate cancer had been conflicting.

“The link between vasectomy and prostate cancer has been debated for many years after two studies from the early 1990s showed an elevated risk of prostate cancer in men who had undergone vasectomies,” Dr Randall said.

“Our research studied the theory that if a vasectomy is considered a cause of prostate cancer then vasectomy reversal should hypothetically decrease the risk of prostate cancer. However, our analysis of almost 10,000 vasectomy reversals found no link between the procedure and prostate cancer at all.”

Dr Randall said the research indicated there was no clinically meaningful relationship between men who had had vasectomies and the rate of prostate cancer.

“Our research therefore shows that the risk of prostate cancer should not rate as a factor for men who are weighing up the decision of whether or not to have a vasectomy,” Dr Randall said.

“This study supports previous research that found little or no evidence of any link between vasectomies and prostate cancer.”

As part of this study, researchers examined 1015 vasectomy reversals and 55,416 vasectomies from Western Australia, 2440 reversals and 58,503 vasectomies in New South Wales, 88 reversals and 37,133 vasectomies in Wales, 2227 reversals and 159,089 vasectomies in Scotland, and 3984 reversals and 374,519 vasectomies in Ontario. The time periods assessed ranged from 1972 to 2016.

The research also involved researchers from Swansea University in Wales, the NHS National Services in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services in Toronto, Canada, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada, and The University of Western Australia.

The paper can be viewed online here.