The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth

  title={The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth},
  author={RS Van Howe and FM Hodges},
  journal={Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology},
  • RS Van Howe, FM Hodges
  • Published 1 October 2006
  • Medicine
  • Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Background  Smegma is widely believed to cause penile, cervical and prostate cancer. This nearly ubiquitous myth continues to permeate the medical literature despite a lack of valid supportive evidence. 
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Understanding the Pathophysiology of Penile Cancer and Its Preneoplastic Lesions
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A review of equine mucocutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 20% of all equine mucocutaneous tumours and continues to present a therapeutic challenge to practitioners, with surgical excision and intratumoural chemotherapy yielding the best results.
Re: ‘RS Van Howe, FM Hodges. The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth.’ An example of myth and mythchief making?
  • J. WaskettB. Morris
  • Medicine
    Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV
  • 2008
Editor This ‘Review’ and re-analysis of published data misrepresents sources, is statistically dubious, has fallacious reasoning, is inconsistent and contains biased statements that make it fatally
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The present study reports the case of a 39-year-old patient with penile mucinous adenocarcinoma who was admitted with the complaint of perineal discharge, which is, to the best of the authors' knowledge, the first case in the literature.


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Investigation revealed the presence of a sebaceous gland opening directly onto the surface and hyperplasia of the epithelium in a 12-year-old boy with a peculiar presentation of preputial papular lesions similar to molluscum contagiosum.
Carcinoma of the Glans penis Arising 20 Years after Lichen sclerosus
A case of LS of the glans penis which occurred in 1976 is described and within the next 20 years, the patient developed carcinoma at this site.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the penis arising on lichen sclerosus et atrophicus
A case is described in a 63‐year‐old man who had been diagnosed of lichen sclerosus et atrophicus 3 years before, and the possible pathogenesis is discussed.
Plasma cell balanitis and vulvitis (of Zoon). A study of 10 cases.
Topical and intralesional corticosteroid preparations resulted in satisfactory improvements in all cases, male and female, and two males subsequently underwent circumcision, which was curative.
Bowen's disease of the glans penis (erythroplasia of Queyrat) in plasma cell balanitis.
Radiotherapy was performed with good clinical response and subsequent histopathologic proof of complete remission of the lesion, and it is assumed that carcinoma in situ may have arisen due to the chronic inflammation of Zoon's balanitis plasmacellularis.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the penis in a circumcised man: a case for dermatology and urology, and review of the literature.
A patient is presented, circumcised at birth, who showed penile squamous cell carcinoma in situ and was treated with carbon dioxide laser ablation, and probably early invasive penile carcinoma.
Tyson's "glands." Ectopic sebaceous glands and papillomatosis penis.
It is suggested that the term Tyson's glands be replaced by the appropriate descriptive expressions: papillomatosis corona penis or ectopic sebaceous glands.
Further fate of the foreskin. Incidence of preputial adhesions, phimosis, and smegma among Danish schoolboys.
  • J. Oster
  • Medicine
    Archives of disease in childhood
  • 1968
There are three decisive dates in the history of the prepuce: the year 1713 BC, in which Abraham is said to have been circumcised as a sign of the pact with Jehovah, the year 48 AD when Paul resolved that it was the circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh that was the true way to salvation, and the year 1949 AD when Gairdner published work which presented facts illustrating the normal development of theprepuce.
Non-specific urethritis investigated by Ziehl-Neelsen staining of the urethral discharge.
Smegma bacilli, though Gram-positive, are not easily stained by this method and are therefore unlikely to be seen during routine smear examination in cases of non-specific urethritis, and in this investigation an acid-fast staining method has been employed.
Balanoposthitis associated with the presence of subpreputial "smegma stones".
On examination there was still evidence of erythema affecting the glans and prepuce but no obvious discharge, and the patient stated that he had never previously attempted to retract his foreskin and had therefore never washed the foreskin.