November 27, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Licensing & Regulatory Issues Scope of Practice
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology eased restrictions on gynecologists treating male patients for sexually transmitted infections and to screen men for anal cancer. This is a reversal from a September directive that said gynecologists could lose their board certification if they treated men.
Like cervical cancer, anal cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted. This type of cancer is rare, but its incidence is increasing, especially among men and women infected with HIV.
Experts in anal cancer asked the board to reconsider its position, and some started letter-writing campaigns. Patient advocacy groups expressed worry that the prohibition would interfere with research and make it harder for male patients to find screening and treatment.
The board had said it wanted to protect the profession as a female specialty and limit the non-gynecological work performed by its members. But board members reconsidered after the letter writing campaign, noting that gynecologists had a long tradition of treating sexually transmitted infections in both men and women, and that HPV and problems related to the virus fell into that category.
In addition, the board recognized the importance of a coming study on anal cancer, funded by the federal government and did not want to interfere with it.