Increased Risk of Penile Cancer among Men Working in Agriculture

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Departamento de Urologia, Hospital Napoleão Laureano, João Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil.

2 Departamento de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Campina Grande (UFCG), Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil.

3 Programa de pós-graduação em Saúde Publica. Universidade Estadual da Paraíba (UEPB), Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil.


Background: Previous Brazilian studies have indicated that working in agriculture could lead to an increased risk of penile cancer. The present descriptive study aimed at establishing a possible association between penile cancer and agricultural occupation. Materials and methods: Data on a total of 103 penile cancer patients were obtained from medical records of two reference centres for cancer treatment in the state of Paraíba, Northeast Brazil. Information about sexual behaviour was obtained in interviews for 48 cases. Results: Of 103 patients 38 and 52 were illiterate and had not completed graduation, respectively, and 60 earned less than twice the minimum wage. All together, 72 (70%) worked in agriculture and 39 confirmed involvement in application of agrochemicals. A history of phimosis was noted for 42 (69%) out of 61 patients and 40 (59%) out of 68 ever smoked. Pathological signs of HPV infection were detected in 45 (70%) out of 64 patients. Of the 48 interviewed patients, 27 (56%) confirmed sexual contact with prostitutes and eight (19%) out of 43 had sex with animals. Conclusions: Data confirmed the presence of several risk factors for penile cancer, like phimosis, smoking, HPV infection and promiscuous sexual behaviour. The high number of Brazilian agricultural workers with penile cancer was unexpected if compared with other professional groups. Future studies should focus on this group of men and elucidate possible reasons for their increased risk.


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