Letter from the American Cancer Society

Quack cancer claims reveal bias of AAP

Pediatricians have a vested interest in encouraging you to circumcise your child. They make money by selling surgery.

Their organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provided a brochure for use by pediatricians. This brochure claimed that cancer may be prevented if you circumcise your child.

When the American Cancer Society (ACS) became aware of this brochure, two highly placed ACS representatives sent a letter of disciplinary tone to the AAP, and took the further step of making the letter public.

Before receiving this information, the AAP could claim that they were somehow unaware that their claims were false or exaggerated. Having been duly informed, the AAP must take action to correct their mistake.

The following letter is dated February 16, 1996, yet many pediatricians continue to profit from unnecessary surgery by misleading parents with claims that they can prevent cancer. If you were sold unnecessary surgery for your child after this date, as a result of false or exaggerated claims by the AAP and your pediatrician, then you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

Allowing your child to be subjected to unnecessary surgery exposes him to the dangerous, sometimes fatal infections that can be acquired in a hospital. “Fatalities caused by circumcision accidents may approximate the mortality rate from penile cancer,” says the American Cancer Society. Perhaps more important, penile cancer mortality would affect a man nearing the end of his life, and routine circumcision accidents damage and kill children just beginning their lives.

Here is the letter:


American Cancer Society

1599 Clifton Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4251 * 404-320-3333

February 16, 1996

Dr. Peter Rappo
Committee on Practice & Ambulatory Medicine
American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
P.O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927

Dear Dr. Rappo:

As representatives of the American Cancer Society, we would like to discourage the American Academy of Pediatrics from promoting routine circumcision as a preventive measure for penile or cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society does not consider routine circumcision to be a valid or effective measure to prevent such cancers.

Research suggesting a pattern in the circumcision status of partners of women with cervical cancer is methodologically flawed, outdated, and has not been taken seriously in the medical community for decades.

Likewise, research claiming a relationship between circumcision and penile cancer is inconclusive. Penile cancer is an extremely rare condition, affecting one in 200,000 men in the United States. Penile cancer rates in countries which do not practice circumcision are lower than those found in the United States. Fatalities caused by circumcision accidents may approximate the mortality rate from penile cancer.

Portraying routine circumcision as an effective means of prevention distracts the public from the task of avoiding the behaviors proven to contribute to penile and cervical cancer: especially cigarette smoking, and unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners. Perpetuating the mistaken belief that circumcision prevents cancer is inappropriate.


Hugh Shingleton, M.D.
National Vice President Detection & Treatment

Clark W. Heath, Jr., M.D.
Vice President Epidemiology & Surveillance Research

(end of ACS letter)

For more information about cancer and circumcision, see the website of the American Cancer Society:

Circumcision is the removal of a part or all of the foreskin at birth or later on in life. This practice has been suggested as conferring some protection against cancer of the penis by contributing to improved hygiene. However, the penile cancer risk is low in some uncircumcised populations, and the practice of circumcision is strongly associated with socio-ethnic factors which in turn are associated with lessened risk. The consensus among studies that have taken these other factors into account is that circumcision is not of value in preventing cancer of the penis. It is important that the issue of circumcision not distract the public’s attention from avoiding known penile cancer risk factors — having unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners (increasing the likelihood of human papillomavirus infection) and cigarette smoking.   -emphasis added

-from Penile Cancer Resource Center of the American Cancer Society.


A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery

Death is not the only risk of allowing someone to cut your boy’s penis. See Jacob’s Story.