Board: Gynecologists May Treat Men
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has reversed a September directive that barred its members from treating men for anal cancer. Some gynecologists have been treating men due to expertise gained via cervical pap smears.
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 H.I.V. 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 nongynecological work performed by its members. But Dr. Kenneth L. Noller, the board’s director of evaluation, said board members had reconsidered and realized 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.